- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) With friends and family sobbing in the courtroom, former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson was sentenced yesterday to 20 years to life in prison for conspiring to blow up police cars in 1975.

In her first statement of contrition, Olson told a judge and those who were affected by the actions of the violent 1970s group, "Forgive me for the pain I've brought you."

But she denied trying to murder officers by planting bombs under the two Los Angeles police cars to avenge the deaths of six SLA members during a shootout with authorities in 1974. The bombs didn't explode.

Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler sentenced Olson to two consecutive terms of 10 years to life.

Immediately afterward, Olson pleaded innocent to robbery and murder charges in another decades-old crime: the 1975 SLA bank holdup in which a bystander, Myrna Opsahl, was killed.

Olson has long denied taking part in the robbery in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento, Calif. She and four other former SLA members were charged in the case this week; two of them, former couple Bill and Emily Harris, were expected to enter not guilty pleas in a Sacramento courtroom later yesterday.

Olson, 55, was a fugitive in the bombing conspiracy case for more than 20 years until her arrest two years ago in Minnesota. She had changed her name from Kathleen Soliah, married a doctor and had three children.

Before Olson was sentenced, her daughter, Leila, sobbed aloud as she told the court: "She is one of the best mothers anybody would ever want."

Olson choked back tears as her husband, Gerald Peterson, said the two had been happily married for 23 years.

"To my lovely wife, Sara, California is now entrusted to clothe you, to feed you, shelter you and correct you and try you," he said. "But this family of ours and our dear friends will not be diminished in our love for you and our respect for you. We will always stand by you until you come home."

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