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Published: Friday, 12/5/2008

San Diego woman pleads guilty to bombing California courthouse


SAN DIEGO A 59-year-old woman pleaded guilty Friday to bombing a federal courthouse and a FedEx building earlier this year in what her attorney described as misguided vandalism.

Ella Louise Sanders of San Diego entered her plea to possession and use of a destructive device to commit a crime of violence. She could face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced in August.

The courthouse explosion on May 4 spread nails and shrapnel as far as two blocks, and authorities almost immediately began looking into whether it was related to the April 25 FedEx bombing. No one was injured in either bombing.

As part of her guilty plea, Sanders said she conspired with others to construct and detonate a series of pipe bombs. She said she bought explosive materials and stole pipes to make five bombs that were used in both explosions, prosecutors said.

Attorney William Brown, who represents Sanders, said his client was remorseful for her role but didn t know the pipe bombs would be used at a federal courthouse.

While at first blush it might look like serious terrorism against government property, it s a case of misguided vandalism at a very inappropriate location, said Brown, adding that Sanders has a history of mental illness, including manic depression.

A second defendant, Eric Robinson, pleaded guilty in September to a conspiracy charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June. Rachelle Carlock has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the case.

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