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Sara Jane Olson Pleads Guilty, Then Backtracks

November 04, 2001

Re "Judge May Reject Olson Guilty Plea," Nov. 2: It is frustrating watching the "progress" of the Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson case. We see someone who got caught up in a bad place--even Patty Hearst got caught up in it for a while--who obviously realized the error of her ways and rehabilitated herself. I'm not proposing that Olson be released with no punishment, but the vindictiveness of the local authorities appears to be more closely related to their own past frustrations than any present or future threat.

Wouldn't it be better to use our resources to search out and prosecute terrorists who actually have plans to blow up and kill people now rather than someone who has shown that she is no longer a threat to anyone? What a waste of time and resources if this has to go through trial.

Sandra Sutherland

Encinitas

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I read with interest your Nov. 1 story regarding Olson pleading guilty to two charges of attempting to explode a destructive device with the intent to commit murder. I worked the Hollywood Patrol Division in 1975. I used to stop to eat at the same International House of Pancakes on Sunset Boulevard where the bomb was placed under the police car. I worked with the officers who were targeted by the bomb makers for no other reason than that they were two police officers out doing their job in the community to make it a better place.

The 1975 incident was one of the few times in my career that I was truly scared, because it very easily could have been my black and white that had been targeted. I remember looking at the photographs of the bomb and realizing that the only reason the officers were not killed or seriously injured was because the homemade detonator failed. After that, LAPD officers went through a vehicle-check drill every time we left our cars out of sight. That drill was a part of our lives for a very long time.

Olson now expects people to believe she pleaded guilty because she could not get a fair trial and that she is innocent, stating, "I pleaded to something of which I am not guilty." Pleading guilty in a court of law means "I did it." Olson had the best attorneys, friends who raised the $1-million bail and the passing of 25 years to dull the memories of witnesses. She is guilty and still refuses to accept the responsibility for her actions. I think I could have finally put the whole matter behind me if she had pleaded guilty and then told the media, "I did it and I am sorry." I guess that was too much to ask.

Ronald W. Bergmann

Deputy Chief, LAPD

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I am dumbfounded by Olson's plea-bargain. She said "guilty" to the charges against her in order to avoid a life sentence; this is understandable. However, she said outside the courtroom that she is innocent of all charges brought against her but felt that she wouldn't get a fair trial at this time. Therefore, she lied to the court in her plea of guilty. The biggest lie (to me, anyway) is hiding her true identity when she fled to Minnesota almost three decades ago in order to avoid prosecution. If she is so innocent, she should have proved it by going through a trial. She said that after Sept. 11, the jury would be prejudiced against terrorists (and she was accused of being one), but it was she and her defense attorneys who kept delaying the trial for various and sundry reasons--before the Sept. 11 disaster.

Mamoru Ohashi

Monterey Park

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