Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Where is Justice for Myrna Opsahl?

The headline reads, "California frees 1970s radical turned housewife."

The State of California has set free Sara Jane Olson, the onetime member of the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army). This "1970s radical turned housewife" was partially responsible for the murder of a woman named Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four who had the misfortune to be in the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California (outside Sacramento) when the SLA was robbing it on April 21, 1975. Olson (formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah) was also responsible for planting bombs under LAPD vehicles four months later.

She was a fugitive from justice for 23 years until she was identified following the airing of an episode of America's Most Wanted in May 1999. In October 2001, Olson pled guilty to setting the bombs but insisted she was innocent. She said the atmosphere post 9/11 would have prevented her from obtaining a fair trial. If Olson were truly innocent she would not have made such a plea. She pled guilty but could not accept responsibility for her own actions. Olson was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 10 years to life but the sentence was eventually reduced to 14 years.

As for Myrna Opsahl, after initially pleading not guilty, Olson pled guilty to Opsahl's murder and was sentenced to six years to be served concurrently with her 14-year sentence. For all and intents and purposes, Olson never spent a day in jail for Opsahl's murder. Where is justice for Myrna Opsahl?

After all, Sara Jane Olson did not answer for her crimes for nearly a quarter century. She got to travel and raise a family. As of today she gets to serve her parole in her home state of Minnesota despite objections from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and state law enforcement.

Myrna Opsahl never got to travel much less continue to raise her children. However, I suspect if Opsahl's family had raised more of a fuss perhaps Olson will still be behind bars. However, her widower and one of her sons seem content to let things be. Of course, I'm not in their shoes and hope it's a position in which I am never put. But if Myrna Opsahl were still alive she would have been 76 years old. There is no statute of limitations on murder for a reason. Myrna Opsahl was cheated out of the best years of her life while Sara Jane Olson gets to enjoy hers.

1 comment:

Right Hook said...

Nice piece.

As a life-long Minnesotan I'm totally disgusted with her coming back here to be protected with my tax dollars, let alone with her being released from prison in the first place.