[sixties-l] Symbionese Saga Comes To An End (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Sat Nov 09 2002 - 22:23:40 EST

  • Next message: Michael Simmons: "Re: [sixties-l] Abbie Hoffman on the City Payroll?"

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Sat, 09 Nov 2002 19:08:46 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Symbionese Saga Comes To An End

    Symbionese Saga Comes To An End


    Nov. 8, 2002

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., (AP) --
    The last Symbionese Liberation Army
    fugitive wanted in a deadly 1975 bank robbery
    was arrested Friday in South Africa, a day after
    four former comrades now graying and
    middle-aged pleaded guilty to murder in the
    James Kilgore, 55, was seized at his home in
    the luxury Cape Town suburb of Claremont, 27
    years after the Californian went underground.
    He had entered South Africa five years ago
    under the name Charles Pape and had landed a
    post at the University of Cape Town as a
    lecturer, said police spokeswoman Mary
    Martins-Engelbrecht. Kilgore's wife is also a
    lecturer there.
    South African police tracked him down with help
    from Interpol, Martins-Engelbrecht said.
    Through his lawyer, Kilgore had been trying to
    negotiate his surrender and a plea bargain
    similar to those worked out by his fellow
    members of the SLA, the ^A'70s radical group that
    kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.
    But Kilgore was arrested before a deal was
    "It's good news," said Dr. Trygve Opsahl,
    whose wife, Myrna Opsahl, was depositing a
    church collection when she killed by a shotgun
    blast during the holdup of the Crocker National
    Bank in suburban Sacramento. "When you're
    dealing with a fugitive that's overseas, anything
    could happen. I understand there was
    something in the wind."
    It was not immediately known if there was a
    connection between the guilty pleas entered
    Thursday and his arrest the very next day.
    The FBI had offered a $20,000 reward and
    unveiled a bust and computer-enhanced
    photographs of what a clean-shaven,
    gray-haired Kilgore might look like now.
    He was also featured on TV's "America's Most
    Wanted," and tips poured in more than 200 in
    the past two years. At the time, authorities
    believed he had blended into an American
    neighborhood. There had not been a single
    confirmed sighting of Kilgore in more than two
    The four former SLA members said they were
    pleading guilty to the killing of a bank customer to
    escape the lingering guilt over their 27-year-old
    They pleaded guilty to murder Thursday in the
    shotgun slaying of a bank customer during a
    1975 holdup, virtually ending one of the most
    notorious and violent sagas of radical 1970s
    The four are William Harris; his ex-wife, Emily
    Montague; Michael Bortin; and Sara Jane Olson,
    who is already serving 14 years behind bars for
    a 1975 attempt to blow up two Los Angeles
    police cars. Each will get six to eight years in
    The defendants, now in their 50s and most with
    families and children, were once members of
    the radical group that became prominent when it
    kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst in
    1974. Kilgore, 55, has been a fugitive since the
    Montague admitted in court that she pulled the
    trigger in shooting 42-year-old Myrna Opsahl
    during an April 21, 1975, robbery of the Crocker
    National Bank in suburban Sacramento.
    Montague received the longest term of eight
    Opsahl's death was "a very violent, horrific
    senseless crime," said prosecutor Robert Gold.
    Montague, 55, fought back tears and said the
    shotgun discharged accidentally.
    "I was horrified at the time," she said. "There
    has not been a day in the last 27 years that I
    have not thought of Mrs. Opsahl and the tragedy
    I brought on her family."
    She also denied ever calling Opsahl a
    "bourgeois pig," as Hearst alleged in her 1982
    book, "Every Secret Thing." Montague said she
    didn't want anyone to think she considered
    Opsahl's life insignificant.
    All four former SLA members apologized to
    Opsahl's family, sitting in the front row of the
    "I say that from the bottom of my heart," said
    Harris, 57, of Oakland. He faces a seven-year
    sentence, unless he can convince prosecutors
    and Judge Cecil Thomas to lower it to six years,
    which Thomas called "an uphill battle."
    Olson, 55, of St. Paul, Minn., will receive a
    six-year sentence, which she would serve
    after she finishes her sentence for the Los
    Angeles case.
    "I never entered that bank with the intent of
    harming anyone," Olson said. "I am truly sorry,
    and I will be sorry until the day I die."
    The state Board of Prison Terms in October
    lengthened Olson's original prison term for the
    attempted bombing by five years, citing the
    potential for violence and harm from the multiple
    intended victims.
    Bortin, 54, of Portland, Ore., also received a
    six-year sentence.
    During the robbery, Bortin said in court
    Thursday, he held a handgun that he "waved a
    little bit" and was the one who announced it
    was a robbery.
    Bortin said the actions of the revolutionary band
    did "horrible damage" to people who peacefully
    protested social conditions.
    Thursday's guilty pleas and courtroom
    statements essentially mirror Hearst's account
    of the robbery that netted $15,000, but wound
    up with an unintentional shooting.
    "Her reaction is basically gratitude that this
    chapter in her life may now hopefully be
    finished," said George Martinez, Hearst's
    Before the pleas, prosecutors had been building
    their case in the 27-year-old robbery and
    murder. They cited new forensic evidence in
    bringing the charges after the 1999 arrest of
    Olson, who had moved to Minnesota in the 1970s, changed her name from Kathleen
    Soliah and became a housewife and mother. The other three suspects were
    in January of this year.
    After the court hearing, Michael Mason, the FBI's Sacramento-based special
    agent-in-charge, had said the case would remain active until Kilgore was
    promising, "We will not rest until he, too, is brought to the bar of justice."
    Gold cited several reasons for accepting the pleas, including "evidentiary
    that existed even when the case was fresh. Gold also explained that while the
    defendants were violent criminals at the time, for the last 20 years or
    more, "each
    defendant has led an otherwise law-abiding life" and is no longer is a
    danger to
    Formal sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14. All the defendants can withdraw
    pleas if the parole board disputes the agreements, authorities said.
    Gold said the Opsahl family agreed to the case's resolution as long as the
    each publicly admitted responsibility for Myrna Opsahl's death.
    Opsahl's son, Jon, who was 15 when his mother was killed and led the fight
    to see
    her killers prosecuted, said, "I am happy about all of this. I'm glad this
    whole thing is
    over, and that truth and justice prevailed in the end. That is what this
    case is all

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Nov 09 2002 - 23:12:25 EST