[sixties-l] Ex-SLA Fugitive Olson Pleads Guilty (fwd)

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Date: Thu Nov 01 2001 - 16:12:48 EST

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    Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 11:40:51 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Ex-SLA Fugitive Olson Pleads Guilty

    Thursday, Nov. 1, 2001

    Ex-SLA Fugitive Olson Pleads Guilty


    LOS ANGELES (AP) _ In an odd final act of a notorious criminal case from
    the 1970s radical era, a former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive told a
    judge she was guilty of possessing bombs with intent to murder police
    officers, then left court and declared she was innocent.
    Sara Jane Olson, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army who was
    arrested in 1999, said she only admitted her guilt Wednesday because the
    Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made it impossible for her to get a fair trial.
    "I pleaded to something of which I'm not guilty," Olson, 54, said outside
    court. "Given that law enforcement has risen in credibility, it was
    inevitably going to play on the minds of jurors."
    Deputy District Attorney Eleanor Hunter said that during plea negotiations
    Olson did not deny her culpability in the effort to bomb two Los Angeles
    police cars in 1975.
    "She's either lying in court or lying to the press to try to save face,"
    Hunter said.
    The prosecutor acknowledged that the trial would have depicted the SLA as a
    terrorist organization and exhumed its violent history, including crimes
    with which Olson was not charged. Defense lawyers lost a bid to delay the
    trial in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
    "Justice weeps for Sara Jane Olson," said defense attorney J. Tony Serra.
    "Sara Jane Olson is truly a victim of Sept. 11. We didn't have a level
    playing field. They have brandished about the term of domestic terrorism."
    Olson, 54, made no reference to the attacks during the hearing in which she
    admitted to possessing bombs and attempting to explode them in two
    incidents _ one at the Hollenbeck Police Station in Los Angeles and another
    near a House of Pancakes restaurant in Hollywood on Aug. 21, 1975.
    Neither bomb went off. Prosecutor Eleanor Hunter said one of them was one
    of the largest pipe bombs ever built in the United States and would have
    injured many people.
    Olson, whose given name was Kathleen Soliah, was accused of targeting the
    officers in retaliation for the deaths of six SLA members in a 1974
    shootout and fire at a Los Angeles house. The SLA gained national notoriety
    after the 1974 kidnapping of media heiress Patty Hearst.
    Soliah vanished a short time after the attempted bombings. She was indicted
    in 1976 but remained a fugitive until her June 1999 capture in St. Paul,
    Minn., where she was living under the assumed name, Sara Jane Olson.
    Minnesota friends who helped raise Olson's $1 million bail were shocked by
    the plea, but remained supportive. "She is a very good person," friend
    Kathy Cima said. "I think it's a bad time to be on trial."
    The trial, which had lurched to a start last week, then stopped during
    motions, was to have provided a post-mortem on the SLA's violent history
    and perhaps a finale to a story which once riveted America.
    Hearst, who was 19 when the group kidnapped her, was to return as a witness
    against Olson a quarter century after she herself was convicted of armed
    bank robbery in an SLA heist.
    Prosecutors dismissed three other charges Wednesday against Olson, but did
    not guarantee her a specific sentence. Her lawyers said they expected her
    to get about five years in prison, but she could be sentenced to life
    behind bars Dec. 7.
    Before Olson's arrest, the former radical had built a life as a wife,
    mother of three children, sometime actress and gourmet cook. She was known
    for her volunteer and community service.
    After the hearing, Olson said she had to consider the possibility of being
    convicted and sentenced to life in prison. She said her lawyers advised her
    that her chances of a lesser sentence would be better if she pleaded guilty.

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