APut 05/18 0241 Pires Interview SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Robert Pires says he joined up with

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APut 05/18 0241 Pires Interview SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Robert Pires says he joined up with the Aryan Nations white supremacist church as a mercenary and later turned himself in because he didn't want innocent people killed. Pires himself was sentenced last week to life in prison for the murder of a Baltimore man in northern Idaho. He also has received state and federal sentences of as long as 20 years for his role in bombings in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, as well as for counterfeiting and attempted bank robbery. Pires talked to The Spokesman-Review newspaper in April at the Latah County Jail in Moscow, Idaho, where he was held from his arrest last October through early last week. The newspaper said Saturday that the interview was granted on the condition that his comments wouldn't be published until after Pires's sentencing was complete. One of his major early memories, Pires said, was learning at the age of 4 that he was adopted. "It really upset me," he said. "It seemed like my parents didn't care because I wasn't really theirs." Pires' adoptive father was a strict Seventh-Day Adventist who served a number of schools Pires attended as a child, either as a teacher or principal. His early years were spent in Maryland, and the family lived in Bermuda at one point. When Robert was a teen-ager, the family moved to Mountain View, Calif. Pires discovered marijuana and alcohol. He was expelled after stealing his father's car and destroying school property. It was the start of an arduous adolescence. "I always felt as though I was in another world inside the regular world," he said. "There was the other world and I just leapt for it." When the family moved to another California city, Robert was expelled from school for striking a vice principal. He moved to an alternative high school, but dropped out in his senior year. With money borrowed from his grandmother, he bought his first car. He said he sold drugs to pay her back. In 1983, Pires was arrested in Santa Barbara for burglary and enrolled in an alcohol-rehabilitation program. He finished rehabilitation, borrowed money from his grandmother and rode a bus back to Maryland, where his family had moved. There he enrolled in another alcohol treatment program. In February 1984, Pires burglarized the homes of family friends and took eight firearms. Convicted, he was sentenced to 16 months in jail. When he got out, he took 11 firearms from his landlord and headed for Idaho. Pires said he went to the Rev. Richard Butler's compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, to be a mercenary, not because he believed in Butler's neo-Nazi teachings. "I figured I would make $25,000 a year, fight for what I believe in and pay people back," Pires said. Authorities say Pires was the getaway driver on the day that Kenneth Shray was killed last August in Bonner County, north of Coeur d'Alene. Aryan Nations members believed Shray was a police informer, Pires' lawyer said last week, and Pires didn't know the others planned to do more than beat up Shray. Pires, 22, said he was the one who persuaded Ed Hawley and David Dorr, other members of a group that called itself Order II, not to kill a Roman Catholic priest who heads the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. Pires said Hawley wanted to leave a bomb at the Rev. Bill Wassmuth's front door last Sept. 15, then ring the doorbell. Pires said he convinced Hawley not to put it right in front of the door. The bomb went off 20 feet from the priest and he was uninjured. Later, after another series of bombings in Coeur d'Alene, which were intended to provide a screen for bank robberies, Pires said he sat in on a session at which Dorr and Hawley planned other murders. Hawley wanted to go to Wassmuth's home and "blow him away," Pires said. Pires said he decided to surrender then. First, he took a brief trip to Seattle. "I shouldn't have come back," Pires said. "I shouldn't have said anything, then we'd see how many people would have been killed." His plea bargain includes provisions that his sentences will run concurrently, that he'll testify against white supremacists and that he will be included in the federal government's witness-protection program. Last page !


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