Symbonian Advocate Freed


Former SLA "urban guerrilla" Sara Jane Olsen (nee Kathy Soliah) has been released from prison after serving half of her sentence. The L.A. Times has details:

The child of a middle-class Palmdale family, Soliah joined the violent band of radicals best known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in the mid-1970s. She was charged with taking part in a 1975 plan to plant pipe bombs beneath police cars in retaliation for a shootout with Los Angeles police that left six SLA members dead.

The nail-packed bombs didn't detonate when the triggering device on one malfunctioned. Not waiting around to make her case in court though, she fled.
Prosecutors scoffed at her reasoning, pointing to reams of documents, fingerprints and other evidence they had amassed against her. The deal aborted a trial that had promised high drama—the saga of a fetching high school pep-squad member turned fugitive—and a revisiting of the social tumult of the 1970s.

Soliah pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing a destructive device with the intent to murder and also struck a deal in a separate case, in which she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for participating in a Sacramento bank robbery where another SLA member killed a customer. For the murder conviction, she received a one-year sentence. For the botched bombings, Soliah initially was sentenced to five years and four months, but that term was extended to 12 years by a state prison board after the board designated her a serious offender.

According to Patty Heart's account of the Carmichael bank robbery, which ended in the murder of church worker Myrna Opsahl, Soliah inquired "How's the woman who was shot?" The trigger woman, SLA member Emily Harris, deadpanned, "Oh, she's dead. But it really doesn't matter. She was a bourgeois pig anyway. Her husband is a doctor. He was at the hospital where they brought her."