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Olson's Added Prison Term in SLA Case to Be Reviewed

September 07, 2004|Associated Press

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. — Los Angeles County prosecutors today will attempt to show why the prison sentence of a former sympathizer of the Symbionese Liberation Army should be more than doubled.

The hearing, to be held in the Chowchilla prison where Sara Jane Olson has been held since October 2002, was ordered in July by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil.

He found that the state Board of Prison Terms did not adequately explain why Olson's original sentence -- five years and four months, earned after she pleaded guilty to planting pipe bombs under Los Angeles police cars -- should be increased to 14 years.

The bombs, placed under two police cars in 1975, never exploded.

After her first sentencing, Olson was tried and convicted for her role in a Sacramento bank robbery that led to the death of a customer. She was sentenced to a separate term of six years.

Olson was already in prison when the Board of Prison Terms recalculated her sentence for the pipe bomb. At the time, Los Angeles prosecutors Michael Latin and Eleanor Hunter urged the board to increase Olson's sentence from 5 1/2 years to 14 years. The board accepted their argument, saying Olson's crimes had the potential for great violence and targeted multiple victims.

But the Sacramento judge found that the board had not described its reasoning in increasing her sentence and ordered the new hearing.

"We'll be there to give them all the information we gave them before," said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

After her days as a sympathizer of the SLA, Olson fled. She settled in St. Paul, Minn., where she changed her name from Kathleen Soliah to Sara Jane Olson. She married a doctor, and lived as a housewife until 1999, when she was featured on TV's "America's Most Wanted."

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