Kathleen Soliah was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
- early life bio goes here, including the 1975 attempt to murder Los Angeles Police officers in retaliation for the deaths of six SLA members in a police shootout the year before, by planting bombs under their patrol cars. The bombs did not explode.
Soliah remained a fugitive living under the alias Sara Jane Olson until her arrest in 1999 in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she was charged with planting the bombs. Her community raised a substantial amount of money to post bond for her, demonstrating that she had become accepted under her new identity. On October 31, 2001, she accepted a plea bargain, and pled guilty to two counts of possessing bombs. Three other charges, including conspiracy, were then dropped.
Immediately after entering the plea, however, she told reporters that she was innocent and that her plea bargain was a lie forced on her by the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. "It became clear to me that the incident would have a remarkable effect on the outcome of this trial, and I think that it's unfortunate, but the effect was probably going to be negative," she said. "That's really what governed this decision, not the truth or honesty, but what was probably in my best interests and the interests of my family."
Angered by her announcement that she had lied in court, Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler ordered another hearing on November 6, at which he asked Soliah several times if she was indeed guilty of the charges. Soliah, rolling her eyes and sighing theatrically, replied "I want to make it clear, Your Honor, that I did not make that bomb. I did not possess that bomb. I did not plant that bomb. But under the concept of aiding and abetting, I plead guilty."
Then, on November 13, she filed a motion requesting to withdraw her guilty plea because "After deeper reflection, I realize I cannot plead guilty when I know I am not." She acknowledged that she did not misunderstand the judge when he read the charges against her and she pleaded guilty. Rather, she said "Cowardice prevented me from doing what I knew I should: Throw caution aside and move forward to trial. ... I am not second-guessing my decision as much as I have found the courage to take what I know is the honest course. Please, Judge Fidler, grant my request to go to trial."
On December 3, Fidler offered to let Olson testify under oath about her role in the case. She refused. He then wondered "I took those pleas twice ... were you lying to me then or are you lying to me now?" -- and denied her request to withdraw her plea. Soliah is now scheduled to be sentenced on January 18. She could face 20 years to life, but is expected to serve only three to five years.
To help pay for her defense, Olson has published a cookbook entitled [http://www.saraolsondefense.com/Fundraising/Cookbook%20Cover.html Serving Time: America's Most Wanted Recipes].