---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001 17:05:29 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Judge Refuses to Let Olson Change Guilty Plea
Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2001
Judge Refuses to Let Olson Change Guilty Plea
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge refused on Monday to allow Sara Jane Olson
to withdraw her guilty plea to charges she conspired to blow up police cars
in 1975 despite an emotional plea from a lawyer who said the ex-radical was
browbeaten into confessing to a crime she did not commit.
"I couldn't for one minute accept a guilty plea from a person I thought was
innocent. I could not sleep. I intend to sleep very well tonight. She
pleaded guilty because she is guilty," said Superior Court Judge Larry Paul
Fidler, following a hearing that lasted several hours. He set sentencing
for Jan. 18.
Shawn Chapman, a lawyer for the ex-Symbionese Liberation Army radical, said
her client was bullied by another defense attorney into pleading guilty to
charges of planting bombs underneath two police cars in 1975.
Referring to lead defense attorney J. Tony Serra who was not in court,
Chapman told Fidler that Serra, "yelled and screamed and demanded that she
take this deal."
Chapman said Olson has always said that she was innocent and wanted to go
to trial, but was persuaded into pleading guilty by Serra, whom Chapman
said, then misled the court about what happened.
Chapman said Serra screamed an obscenity at Olson, calling her a "... idiot
if she did not take this deal." She added that Serra had a Svengali-like
influence on his client and that "Without pointing a gun to her head, he
made her come in and say the things she said," Chapman said.
Serra said last week Olson was in a "psychological condition of coercion"
when she twice pleaded guilty and that he took responsibility in part for
forcing her to plead guilty because he believed that no jury would find a
radical innocent after the events of Sept. 11.
Olson, who spent 19 years in hiding, is the former Kathleen Soliah. She was
accused of planting bombs under police cars to avenge the killing a year
earlier in a police raid of six members of the Symbionese Liberation Army,
a radical group best known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst.
Olson pleaded guilty Oct. 31 to two counts of attempted explosion of a
destructive device with intent to commit murder but then told reporters she
was innocent. She pleaded guilty again a week later but on Nov. 13, she
filed papers asking that she be allowed to take her plea back.
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