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Soccer Mom's Radical Trial Starts

Two years after the 70's radical-turned-Minnesota-housewife was arrested, Kathleen Soliah's trial on attempted murder charges is finally getting underway Monday in Los Angeles, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

Known now as Sara Jane Olson, she has all along denied her involvement in the crimes carried out by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the SLA.

"I was not in Los Angeles, I did not place those bombs under those cars I was not in the Carmichael bank in Sacramento," she said this past February. "I am innocent."


AP
Soliah in 1975

Soliah disappeared after that incident in 1975 and settled in St. Paul, Minn., where she took the name Sara Jane Olson and lived quietly as a housewife and occasional actress. She remained a fugitive until her arrest two years ago.

The radical SLA kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and was suspected to have killed a woman during a Sacramento bank robbery. Hearst joined the SLA and was convicted of another bank robbery. She'll be one of the prosecution's star witnesses against Olson

"[Hearst's] attitude is she paid the price: She went to jail for her crimes and now it is time for Sara Jane Olson to do the same," former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson told CBS News.

The trial is expected to last six to ten months, and as much as a month could be taken up with pretrial motions. Jury selection will follow and could take another two weeks to a month.

Prosecutors say Olson wanted revenge for the shootout and fire that killed six SLA members, so she planted bombs under Los Angeles police cars. But even prosecutors admit the case may be lacking: Two main witnesses tying olson to the crime have died.

"On the downside for prosecutors, they've got an old case back 25 years ago and they are going against a woman the jury might look at and say 'Why are we bothering?'" said Levenson.

The married mother of three teenaged daughters was supported by a community fundraiser. She calls herself a soccer mom and raised money for her defense selling cookbooks.

Experts say finding a jury that remembers little about the sla and those rebellious times might help her defense.

"That type of person would be far more likely to be willing to consider the fact that this person has had 20 to 25 years to change the wrongs they committed in the past," said Phillip Anthony of DecisionQuest Jury Consulting.

The so-called "soccer mom" could face murder charges. Investigators in Sacramento are still looking into her involvement in the bank robbery killing in 1974. In Patty Hearst's ook, she claims that Olson was inside that bank when the shooting took place.

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