A Clay County man admitted in federal court yesterday that he and another man tried to kill Clay sheriff Randy Holcomb with a homemade bomb in August 2005.

Donnie "Junior" Welch, 26, said he held a flashlight as Samuel Todd Murphy placed a wooden box in the bed of a truck in the Eagle Bend area and connected the two wires that armed the bomb.

Murphy, 38, also of Clay, pleaded guilty to possession of a bomb and trying to buy marijuana in August 2006 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison last November.

Welch pleaded guilty to possession of a bomb, making a false statement to federal agents, being a drug addict in possession of a gun, and perjury.

Welch faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. on Oct. 25.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Schwartz indicated Welch and Murphy wanted to assassinate newly elected Clay County Sheriff Randy Holcomb because he was aggressively cracking down on methamphetamine production in 2005.

Both men had been involved in making the illegal drug.

After the bomb was planted in a woody area above the town of Clay, they tried to lure the sheriff to the area with an anonymous tip about a meth lab.

Holcomb was out of the office because his mother was in the hospital and didn't get the message until after the bomb had detonated, officials said.

Clay residents Ronnie Hamm and David Corkrean set off the bomb on Aug. 7, 2005, while looking for items they could recycle.

Hamm reportedly suffered minor wounds to his hands, legs and ears.

Welch admitted to lying about his involvement and to giving a false statement under oath when he told a federal grand jury that he and Murphy did not discuss the bomb plots or efforts to hide their meth activities during phone calls made from jail after Murphy had been arrested in Aug., 2005.

Following yesterday's hearing, Sheriff Holcomb said he was lucky to be alive. "Had my mom not broken her leg," he said, "I probably wouldn't be here."

"Had it gone off properly," he said, "it would've killed everybody within a 10-foot radius."

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