LOS ANGELES -- One of two lawyers for former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson moved Friday to withdraw from her bombing conspiracy case and asked for a lengthy continuance to allow a new defense team to be formed.
Stuart Hanlon, who has represented Olson since her arrest, said that recent court rulings will extend the trial and take him away from his two young children at a critical time.
Hanlon, a single father, lost his wife to leukemia in 1997. He said his children, still suffering from the loss of their mother, cannot do without him for the four to six months the trial now might last. He lives in San Francisco and would have to relocate to Los Angeles for the trial.
The Olson trial had been scheduled to begin Feb. 7. Hanlon said he had arranged his schedule and child care to accommodate a trial originally estimated at six to eight weeks.
But at a hearing last Monday, the scope of the case expanded when Judge James Ideman ruled that prosecutors can bring in extensive evidence on the SLA history and crimes with which Olson is not charged.
''The court's ruling on the admission of other crime evidence means that the present case is no longer one of a conspiracy to murder Los Angeles police officers,'' the motion said. ''Rather it is now a trial of the entire history of Symbionese Liberation Army, including over 20 felonies.''
Hanlon stated that in his 25-year law career, ''I have never been faced with a case that even comes close to the magnitude of the present one.''
The attorney, who has handled a number of high-profile cases, including that of Elmer ''Geronimo'' Pratt, said he has a strong desire to represent Olson but cannot sacrifice the needs of his sons, ages 8 and 12. He said Olson, as a mother, understands his plight.
''I simply did not believe that the court would allow the present case to turn into a political drama in which the entire history of the SLA would become relevant,'' he said. ''I believed that due process would demand that the guilt or innocence of Ms. Olson be decided on the facts of the case for which she was indicted.''
The motion also complained that prosecutors have been slow to share evidence and have completely failed to provide discovery of some key documents related to star witness Patty Hearst Shaw.
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