Postponement in SLA trial

The Associated Press
Wednesday May 09, 2001

LOS ANGELES — A state appeals court on Tuesday ordered another lengthy delay in the attempted-murder trial of former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson. 

The 2nd District Court of Appeals told the trial judge to postpone the case until Sept. 4 – or appear before the panel next month to explain why he feels the case should proceed without delay. 

The appellate panel’s 2-1 ruling came on a defense request.  

Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler was expected to announce the ruling Wednesday, when both sides were due back for a pretrial hearing. The trial had been expected to begin within a few weeks. 

Last week, Fidler rejected a defense bid to delay the trial for five months and also questioned the rising costs of the Olson defense, which is being partially funded by public money. 

In their appeal, defense lawyers argued that they were unprepared and that starting the trial soon would have denied Olson due process and a fair trial. 

“The prosecution has had 25 years to prepare its case and the unlimited resources of the city, county, state and federal governments, (while) the defense has had very little time to prepare,” said their written argument. 

Olson, 54, is accused of attempting to murder Los Angeles police officers by planting bombs under police cars in 1975 in retaliation for the deaths of six SLA members in a fiery shootout in 1974. The bombs did not explode. 

Indicted in 1976 under her former name, Kathleen Soliah, she remained a fugitive until her 1999 capture in Minnesota, where she had taken on her new name and was living as a doctor’s wife, mother and active community member.