Local News in Brief : Santee


Christopher Harmon was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic--the stiffest sentence handed down so far against members of a fundamentalist church who were involved in the plot.

Harmon, 24, of Spring Valley, received the maximum sentence from U.S. District Judge Earl Gilliam, who also could have imposed a $250,000 fine. No fine was levied.

Meanwhile, the sentencing of the Santee-based Bible Missionary Fellowship’s pastor, Dorman Owens, 55, was delayed until June 20, along with the sentencing of another member, Joanne Kreipel, 37, of Santee.


Assistant U.S. Atty. Larry Burns said Harmon was involved in an earlier incident at the clinic, the Alvarado Medical Center, in which he assaulted a man with an electronic dart gun while the man was escorting his girlfriend into the center to get an abortion.

Harmon was sentenced to one year for misdemeanor battery by a municipal judge, but that sentence was modified when he said he was remorseful, said Burns.

“He’s fooled one judge already,” said Burns.

The prosecutor said that, upon his release, Harmon engaged in the failed plot to blow up the medical facility and supplied a wig for fellow church member Eric Svelmoe, 30, to wear when he planted the bomb July 27, 1987.

Svelmoe has pleaded guilty Dec. 7 to attempted bombing and is awaiting sentencing. Harmon pleaded guilty March 1 to conspiracy to commit a bombing.

The judge noted that Harmon helped supply gunpowder to make the bomb.