WASHINGTON -- A federal judge yesterday sentenced former Baltimore resident Laura Jane Whitehorn to 20 years in federal prison for her role in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Capitol and in several other bombings.
Whitehorn, imprisoned since her arrest in Baltimore in 1985, pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy and possessing falsified documents. She was sentenced today alongside her former Baltimore roommate, Linda Evans. Evans, already serving a 35-year sentence for illegal purchase of weapons, was given two concurrent five-year sentences for her role in the bombings.
Whitehorn, 45, and Evans, 43, are among six people indicted in the 1983 bombing, which shook the U.S. Capitol and damaged a Senate conference room and the offices of then-Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. No one was injured in the blast.
The group, which planned the bombing to protest U.S. military intervention in Central America and Grenada, carried out similar attacks in Washington at the National War College at Fort McNair and the Washington Navy Yard and in New York at the Israeli Aircraft Industries building and the South African consulate.
In sentencing the two women, U.S. District Court Judge Harold H. Greene said that politically motivated acts of violence "are just as devastating" as those crimes inspired by greed.
Whitehorn's attorney, Nkechi Taifa, described her client's case as a "vindictive prosecution" that ended with a "vindictive sentence."
"This shows that the sentence a person receives depends on whether their politics fall on the right or left side of the political spectrum," Ms. Taifa said, pointing out that it was Judge Greene who sentenced John Poindexter to six months in prison for his role in the Iran-contra case.
Before she was sentenced, Whitehorn told a courtroom packed with supporters who cheered and applauded her statements and booed those of the U.S. attorney that she and the others "were all imprisoned for fighting against U.S. government violations of international law."
FBI agents arrested Whitehorn in 1985 on charges of assaulting an FBI agent during a raid of her North Baltimore apartment, in which authorities said they found an Uzi submachine gun, a .22-caliber pistol, bomb-making paraphernalia, materials to produce false documents and $10,000 cash. Whitehorn already has been tried in federal court in Baltimore on the assault and falsified documents charges, but a mistrial was declared on grounds that the FBI raid was illegal. The government is appealing that ruling.
Whitehorn later pleaded guilty to the documents charge, and her sentence yesterday included 5 years on that count.
She was indicted in Washington in May 1988 on charges stemming from the bombings and pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts in September. Her 20-year sentence also includes 10 years for conspiracy related to the Capitol bombing and 5 years for general conspiracy, with all sentences to be served consecutively.