[sixties-l] Los Angeles pursues old SLA case

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 01/13/01

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Daley promises police wont hurry into spying"

    Published Sunday, Jan. 7, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News
    Los Angeles pursues old SLA case
    Scripps-McClatchy News Service
    The saga of the Symbionese Liberation Army is more than 25 years old, but 
    it still will not go away.
    Today, decades after the revolutionary group made its name by kidnapping 
    newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, officials are engaged in an unusual, 
    high-stakes dispute over whether to prosecute what is allegedly one of the 
    group's most heinous crimes: the April 21, 1975, holdup of a Carmichael 
    bank that killed a mother of four who was depositing her church collection.
    Prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office are 
    pressing hard for Sacramento County officials to file charges, and Los 
    Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks is lobbying for action on new evidence 
    in the case.
    But Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully's office says the new 
    evidence still is not strong enough to produce convictions in the shotgun 
    slaying of 42-year-old Myrna Lee Opsahl.
    "This is a legal decision based upon our evaluation of the evidence," 
    Scully spokeswoman Robin Shakely said Tuesday in a two-page statement 
    released in the case. "It does not arise from a lack of desire for justice 
    for the victims. This remains an open case."
    The pressure that Los Angeles officials are exerting to make the Sacramento 
    County case active is extraordinary.
    Next week, officials from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los 
    Angeles County District Attorney's Office are expected to travel to 
    Sacramento for yet another pitch aimed at getting charges filed.
    Four Sacramento County district attorneys have looked at the case in the 
    past 25 years and decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence.
    Authorities in Los Angeles are facing their own SLA-related trial now set 
    for April 10, with the prosecution of former fugitive Kathleen Soliah.
    Soliah, who was at large for 24 years until she was caught living in 
    Minnesota under the name Sara Jane Olson, is charged in connection with an 
    August 1975 incident in which two pipe bombs were placed under a Los 
    Angeles police patrol car. Neither device exploded.
    Soliah also is believed to have taken part in the Carmichael bank robbery 
    months earlier, and Sacramento authorities had at one point offered a 
    promise of immunity in exchange for her testimony about that crime.
    Despite claims by Los Angeles authorities that there is critical new 
    evidence in the Carmichael case, Sacramento prosecutors say the information 
    uncovered in recent months still is not conclusive.
    Among the evidence, sources say, is the analysis of a palm print discovered 
    at a Sacramento garage where SLA members had stored their getaway vehicles, 
    including one used in the Carmichael robbery.  That print turned out to be 
    Soliah's, sources said.
    Forensics experts using new technology also are trying to link 19 live 
    shells dropped inside the bank with ammunition found in the apartments of 
    SLA members when they were arrested in San Francisco.
    Particularly tantalizing to some officials is the prospect of having Hearst 
    testify in the Sacramento County case. In her 1982 book on her life with 
    the SLA, Hearst said that she was in a car outside the bank during the 
    robbery and that SLA member Emily Harris fired the blast that killed Opsahl.
    At least five other SLA members were allegedly involved in the Carmichael 
    heist, and officials in Los Angeles have argued that O'Mara should 
    prosecute them all, except for Hearst, who was granted immunity after 
    testifying before a Sacramento County grand jury in 1990.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : 01/13/01 EST