MINDEN, Nev. — Separate trials, starting Feb. 5, have been ordered for John Birges Sr. and Ella Joan Williams, facing state charges for the 1980 extortion-bombing of Harvey's Resort Hotel at Lake Tahoe.
Douglas County District Court Judge Norm Robison granted motions Friday for the separate proceedings after defense lawyers said testimony of each defendant could prejudice the case of the other.
Birges, the alleged mastermind of the extortion-bombing, and Williams face charges including extortion, making a bomb threat, unlawful possession of explosives and interstate transportation of an explosive device.
Birges and Williams, both from the Fresno area, were convicted earlier on federal charges. Birges is currently serving a 20-year federal term. Williams served just over two years.