---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2002 15:27:30 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Last SLA fugitive pleads innocent
Last SLA fugitive pleads innocent
After 27 years on the run, 55-year-old arrested in South Africa appears in
San Francisco court
By William Brand , STAFF WRITER
SAN FRANCISCO -- Twenty-seven years after he fled the Bay Area two jumps
ahead of the FBI, James Kilgore, the last radical Symbionese Liberation
Army fugitive from the 1970s, faced a federal judge in San Francisco on
In a brief hearing, Kilgore, who grew up in San Rafael, pleaded innocent to
a charge of possessing a pipe bomb and to a new charge of making a false
passport application in 1981 under the name of a dead Seattle infant.
Wearing a green jail shirt and pants and a brown jacket, he identified
himself as James William Kilgore in a firm, clear voice.
Kilgore looked very much like the 55-year-old college researcher he had
become in his long, underground life that ended in Cape Town, South Africa:
balding, with rimless wire glasses, slightly overweight, a calm demeanor.
But the U.S. government, in an affidavit filed with the court, said he had
been a member of an organization whose aim was to spread terror in Northern
California, kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and murdered Oakland Schools
Superintendent Marcus Foster.
In the document, the government said Kilgore participated in bank robberies
and at least five 1975 bombing attacks, including the destruction of a
police car in Emeryville, and attempts in San Rafael, San Francisco and Los
Angeles. Bystander Myrna Opsahl was murdered in one bank robbery, and
although Kilgore did not shoot her he faces a second-degree murder charge
in Sacramento in the case.
Judge Bernard Zimmerman ordered the defendant held pending a hearing 10
a.m. Jan. 16 before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel.
Just once, as Kilgore entered the court, he glanced toward the crowded
courtroom audience, which included convicted SLA soldier William Harris of
Oakland and two friends from the Bay Area who knew Kilgore as Charles W.
Pape in South Africa.
The friends, California State University, Hayward professor Roxanne Dunbar
Ortiz and UC Santa Cruz faculty member Frank Wilderson, who lives in
Berkeley, scoffed at claims that he is a flight risk.
"This man was one of the greatest human beings I have ever known," said
Wilderson, who worked with Pape at a small school in Johannesburg, South
Africa for several years. He said he was very active with the
"I don't know if (South African leader) Nelson Mandela knew him personally,
but he certainly knew of his work in South Africa," Wilderson said.
Dunbar Ortiz said Kilgore wrote a 20th century world civilization textbook
that is used in middle schools throughout South Africa.
She said she got to know Kilgore's wife, Theresa Barnes Pape, while doing
research at the University of Western Cape Town, where Barnes Pape taught.
She said Kilgore's wife and two children are on their way to San Francisco,
and she came to the hearing partly at their request.
Barnes went to Zimbabwe to teach after graduating from Brown University and
met Kilgore there, Dunbar Ortiz said. "Really, I am here as a friend and
I'm glad to be here," she said.
"I knew he (Kilgore) had been an American activist, but I never would have
guessed in a million years who he really was," she said.
Kilgore, who was represented by New York attorney Louis Freeman, hired by
his family, did not ask for bail. Freeman said Kilgore wanted to remain in
jail because every day served will be credited against his eventual prison
He said Kilgore is very remorseful about his actions a quarter-century ago
and wants to resolve the cases and return to his life in Cape Town.
In the affidavit filed with the court by U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan and
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Nerney, the government called Kilgore a
flight risk and former member of a group that spread terror in the 1970s.
The government said Kilgore obtained a false passport in Seattle in 1981,
using the birth certificate of a 10-month-old dead infant, Charles William
The government said in the document that, for a time before he left the
country for Africa, Kilgore lived in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area near his
old SLA girlfriend, Kathleen Soliah, using the alias "John Robinson."
Soliah assumed a new life as Sarah Jane Olson, a physician's wife and
mother until her arrest in 1999. She is serving a prison sentence for her
part in the Los Angeles bombing attempt.
The government affidavit said Kilgore obtained a replacement for the first
passport by mail in 1985 and apparently lived in different countries in
In 1994, he sent a renewal application to the American Consulate in
Johannesburg, South Africa with his old Charles Pape passport. "Kilgore
used this (new) passport to enter the United Stares in 1996 and 1997," the
"South African police seized this passport and a birth certificate for dead
infant Pape when they arrested Kilgore at his home in Cape Town," the
Fingerprint of Kilgore
The FBI also obtained a latent fingerprint of Kilgore on the passport
application, the document said, and that is the basis for the second
charge, which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years and a
The bomb charge, officially possession of an unregistered explosive device,
carries a 10-year maximum sentence. The government said in its affidavit
that on Sept. 21, 1975, Kilgore, using an alias, hired movers to haul
household goods from an apartment at 401 Irvington St. in Daly City.
But the house where the movers were supposed to deliver the goods was
vacant. "He then discovered a loaded pistol and a pipe bomb in the basket,"
the government said.
"Kilgore's fingerprints were found on the rental agreement for the Daly
City apartment and on tape securing the pipe bomb in a cardboard box," the
government document said.
The government also disagreed with a statement by Louis Freeman that he had
been negotiating for Kilgore's surrender when Kilgore was arrested.
"The last negotiations took place in 1979, and when Kilgore and Kathleen
Soliah were told through an attorney that the government would not
negotiate bail or a plea bargain with fugitives, they responded that they
'had no desire to turn themselves in at this point,'" the government said.
The other SLA members, William Harris, 57, of Oakland, his former wife,
Emily Montague, 55, Michael Bortin, 54, and Sarah Jane Olson, 55, entered
guilty pleas in Sacramento in the robbery-murder. Montague admitted pulling
the trigger and said she regretted her action every day. They are to be
sentenced in February.
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