Pierce County Woman Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Bombing Car Belonging to Person She Considered a Police ‘Snitch’
Used Explosive Device to Blow-up Empty Car Outside Home
A Tacoma, Washington woman was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 60 months in prison for unlawful possession of a destructive device, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. KENNI JO BENNETT, 41, of Tacoma, and an accomplice, placed the explosive device under a Kia Forte sedan parked outside a Tacoma home occupied by a family, including several children. The device exploded, blasting a hole in the trunk area of the car and scattering debris around the area, including the lawns of homes across the street. No one was injured. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton described the crime as a “very, very dangerous offense,” and told BENNETT that her conduct showed she was a “renegade” who sought “rough justice [on] her terms.”
“This defendant tried to keep the truth about her drug dealing and other crimes from coming out,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Not only did she not succeed, she will now serve five years in a federal prison for her actions. I commend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Tacoma Police Department for their work on this case, and am grateful that the small children sleeping in a room near the explosion were not injured in this attack.”
According to the plea agreement, between August and October 2016, BENNETT became convinced that the victim was providing information to law enforcement concerning BENNETT’s drug trafficking activities. BENNETT recruited an accomplice to help her blow up the victim’s car. BENNETT purchased an explosive device about the size of a soda can from someone she knew on the Puyallup Indian Reservation. In the early morning hours of October 13, 2016, BENNETT cruised the victim’s neighborhood and saw his car parked in the driveway of his home. She texted her accomplice, picked him up, and brought him back to the target vehicle. BENNETT used a lit cigarette to ignite the fuse of the device and instructed her accomplice where to place it. BENNETT used her smart phone to record the explosion. The two then left the area.
BENNETT was arrested by Tacoma Police and charged in state court in November 2016. A forensic review of BENNETT’s phone revealed multiple text messages in which she bragged about the bombing and joked with her friends about it. While in custody, BENNETT asked other people to intimidate witnesses or attempt to erase electronic evidence. In May 2017, BENNETT was charged federally and has remained in federal custody.
BENNETT pleaded guilty in October 2017.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Tacoma Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin H. Becker.