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New Delay Sought in Sara Jane Olson Trial

May 10, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Attorneys for former Symbionese Liberation Army sympathizer Sara Jane Olson, accused of plotting in 1975 to kill Los Angeles police officers, are seeking yet another delay in her trial because of changes in her defense team.

Olson was scheduled to go on trial in January. Since then, three attorneys have left her defense, and the trial has been postponed twice.

Olson's newest lawyer, J. Tony Serra, said in a news release Tuesday that he and co-counsel Shawn Chapman will ask Superior Court Judge James M. Ideman to set aside the August trial date and continue the case until early next year.

"Sara Jane Olson has lost her two lead lawyers through no fault of her own," Serra said.

Stuart Hanlon, a widowed father, left the case when it appeared the demands of the trial would take him away from his children for six months or more. Susan Jordan left last week because of medical problems. Earlier, Henry Hall, of the alternate public defender's office, stepped aside after just two weeks, citing an unspecified conflict of interest.

That leaves Shawn Chapman, a former member of O.J. Simpson's defense team, and Serra, who joined the case last week. They say they cannot be fully prepared for a trial by August.

Olson, a married mother of three, was indicted in 1976 under her former name, Kathleen Soliah. She was accused of plotting as a member of the radical SLA to plant nail-packed pipe bombs under two police vehicles in August 1975. She was arrested near her home last year and is free on $1-million bail. Her alleged co-conspirator, James Kilgore, remains at large.

The next court date is Thursday.

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