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Emily Harris Freed on Bail in SLA Murder Case

February 18, 2002|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Emily Harris, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army charged with murdering a church volunteer during a 1975 bank robbery, was freed Sunday on $1-million bail.

Harris, 54, of Altadena, now known as Emily Montague, was released from a Sacramento jail, her attorney and jail officials said.

Harris is one of five former SLA members charged with killing 42-year-old Myrna Opsahl during the Crocker National Bank robbery in Carmichael in April 1975.

"She was very thankful to her family and friends for gathering the large amount of money and equity needed for her release," said her attorney, Stuart Hanlon. "She's got a lot of support from people who believe in her."

Hanlon said his client spent Sunday with her friends and family at a Sacramento hotel.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge set bail for Harris and her ex-husband, William Harris, 56, at $1 million each. Michael Bortin, 53, also accused of the killing, remains in jail after being extradited from Oregon.

Another defendant in the case, Sara Jane Olson, 55, was sentenced Jan. 18 to 20 years to life in prison for a failed bombing attempt against Los Angeles police officers in 1975, and is not eligible for bail.

A fifth defendant, James Kilgore, has been a fugitive since the 1970s.

Hanlon said Emily Harris' supporters paid 10% of the bond and secured the rest with equity from seven houses.

Charles Bourdon, who represents William Harris, said his firm still is trying to raise the $1-million bail, and that he will ask for a reduced bail at a Feb. 25 hearing.

The Harrises were convicted of the 1974 kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst and served about eight years each. Hearst, 47, is expected to testify for the prosecution in the Opsahl murder trial. She was granted immunity in the case and described the crime to FBI agents in 1976.

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