Bissell Pleads Innocent To Bomb Charge
SEATTLE (AP) _ A former member of the radical Weathermen group who fled Seattle 17 years ago after being charged with trying to bomb an ROTC building pleaded innocent Thursday to federal conspiracy and firearms charges.
U.S. Magistrate John Weinberg agreed to release Silas Trim Bissell, 44, to his Eugene, Ore., home when a $95,000 property bond is posted.
Three friends who knew Bissell under his assumed name, Terence Jackson, had agreed to put up equity in their homes so Bissell could be released, said Bissell’s attorney, Larry Finegold.
Bissell, who jumped bail in 1970, was arrested Jan. 20 at his Eugene, Ore., home.
A trial date of March 31 has been set on federal charges that Bissell conspired with his wife to damage federal property by placing a bomb at the Air Force ROTC building on the University of Washington campus Jan. 18, 1970.
He also is to be tried on another federal charge of possessing an unregistered firearm - the bomb device, which never went off.
Bissell’s wife, Judith Emily Bissell, was convicted in the Seattle bomb- planting and a California bomb conspiracy in 1979, years after the two had separated.
Bissell, a member of the Weathermen when he was arrested in 1970, also faces state charges that involve a violent confrontation between anti-war protesters and police in 1969.
Finegold said he would seek a meeting with King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng to try to resolve the matter of bail on the state charges.
He said he would be surprised if the state didn’t agree to bail, and that he expected Bissell could be released as early as Monday or Tuesday.
On the federal charges, the magistrate essentially met Finegold’s request of freedom for his client. Kenneth Parker, assistant U.S. attorney, had requested that Bissell remain in custody until his trial.
″He has been a fugitive, and except for a fortuitous (capture), he would remain a fugitive today,″ Parker said.
Finegold reviewed Bissell’s life in Eugene, and said Bissell had become an outstanding member in the Eugene community since he fled there in 1971.
″He is not a flight risk and certainly he is not a danger to the community,″ Finegold said.
Finegold told the court that Bissell and his wife jumped bail in 1970 because Bissell was threatened by jailers in Seattle ″and was advised that when he was released on bond, he should never return to jail.″
In an interview published Thursday in the Eugene Register-Guard, Bissell said he ″went into the anti-war movement not out of anger but as a matter of conscience.″
″It was a terribly stressful time for the nation. It was inordinately stressful for those of us who were involved in anti-war work because we felt so much responsibility to do the right thing to bring an end to the war.
″We were merciless to ourselves, and I think that compounded the errors that we made. We made great errors - I made great errors.″