A Nevada man arrested in July near the University of Washington with six Molotov cocktails and maps of three college campuses pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of a destructive device, possession of a stolen firearm and transportation of a stolen vehicle.
Justin Jasper, 22, entered his plea during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Each criminal court carries the same penalty: Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20 before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez. Under the terms of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors and the defense will recommend a sentence of three years in prison and three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to federal prosecutors, Jasper came to Washington to “argue with some legislators” while driving a stolen pickup with two unloaded firearms and a half-dozen Molotov cocktails in the bed of the truck.
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Also in the truck were a machete and military-grade body armor along with the maps of three Seattle-area college campuses, prosecutors said.
The truck, firearms and body armor were taken from a Montana long-haul trucker who had given Jasper a ride after meeting him at a truck stop in Jerome, Idaho, a month before his arrest.
The trucker, Erik Henderson, told The Seattle Times he let Jasper stay in his home after meeting him. Henderson said the body armor was his from when he was a contract convoy trucker in Iraq. The guns were hunting weapons, he said.
Henderson said Jasper described himself as an “anarchist.” Jasper had a long list of gripes about topics ranging from the chemical industry to genetically altered foods to voting rights, according to Henderson.
Henderson discovered his pickup, guns and body armor missing July 2 after returning home from 11 days on the road. Jasper, he said, had left a message saying he was driving to Seattle to “argue with some legislators about some issues he was upset at.”
Jasper was first noticed by University of Washington police July 2 when officers found him sleeping in the back of the pickup not far from Mary Gates Drive, near the northeast corner of the campus. He was released after officers warned him about camping in public and checked up on him for warrants but turned up nothing.
The next day, UW police dispatchers got a “delayed hit” on the truck as being stolen, along with firearms, from Montana. Just before 10:30 that night, two other UW officers spotted the truck on Montlake Boulevard Northeast. After calling for backup, the officers arrested Jasper.
The Molotov cocktails were found under a blanket in the back of the pickup next to the body armor. They were described as beer bottles containing a wick and gasoline.
Jasper, appearing scruffy and a little confused in court Tuesday, at first seemed to not understand that by pleading guilty he would be giving up his right to a trial. He said he wanted to be sure he had a chance to speak, and was mollified when U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler assured him that the sentencing judge would appreciate and encourage anything he had to say during the sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg read a statement of the facts of the case into the court record, including the allegations that Jasper had taken the truck, body armor and vest without permission.
“That all sounds correct,” Jasper said.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.