SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A judge has thrown out the 14-year sentence imposed on former Symbionese Liberation Army (search) member Sara Jane Olson (search), who spent 25 years as a fugitive, saying a new hearing is needed to decide how much prison time she should serve.
Olson — who had changed her name from Kathleen Soliah, married and was raising a family in St. Paul, Minn. — pleaded guilty in 2001 to taking part in two attempts to bomb Los Angeles Police Department cars in 1975.
She will have a new sentencing hearing within 60 days, Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Cecil said.
The bombs were planted under two police cars in 1975, but failed to explode. Los Angeles prosecutors said Olson was attempting to retaliate for the deaths of six members of the radical SLA who had been killed in a fire and shootout with police in 1974. That was the same year that other SLA members kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.
She was initially sentenced to five years and four months. The state Board of Prison Terms scrapped that sentence in October 2002 in exchange for a 14-year sentence, saying Olson's crimes had the potential for great violence and targeted multiple victims. The three-member board also cited Olson's flight and years as a fugitive.
Cecil, in a ruling released Monday, said there was "no analysis" of how the state Board of Prison Terms decided 14 years was an appropriate sentence.
Olson had married a doctor in St. Paul and lived quietly until 1999, when the television show "America's Most Wanted" (search) featured the case.
In January 2003, Olson also was also sentenced to six years for her role in a botched bank robbery that killed a Sacramento woman. She was one of five SLA members sentenced for that robbery.
Former SLA leader Bill Harris was sentenced to seven years, Michael Bortin to six years and Harris' ex-wife, Emily Montague, to eight years because she was holding the gun that killed the woman in the bank.
The fifth member of the group, James Kilgore, was sentenced in May to six years after being arrested in South Africa.