TRIALS: The Verdict on Patty: Guilty as Charged

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"Is this your verdict?" the clerk asked each member of the jury, one after another. Back came the answers: "Yes . . . yes . . . yes . . ." As the seven women and five men spoke, the defendant sat erect, pale but composed and dry-eyed, while her lawyers leaned toward her protectively. Last week, after only twelve hours of deliberation, a San Francisco jury ruled that Patricia Campbell Hearst was guilty of armed bank robbery and of using a firearm to commit a felony.

It was the climactic moment of a trial that had leaped from one emotional peak to another for eight dramatic weeks. "Oh, my God," gasped Catherine Hearst, when she heard her 22-year-old daughter declared guilty. Two of Patty's sisters began to weep, as did U.S. Deputy Marshal Janey Jimenez, the defendant's photogenic escort for most of the trial. As for Patty, she betrayed no emotion, but her face was drained of color. She whispered almost despondently to one of her lawyers: "I wonder if I ever had a chance."

Only minutes before the verdict was read, Defense Attorney F. Lee Bailey had told reporters that he was hopeful of a favorable outcome because the jury had been out for so short a time. Now he turned ashen. The verdict, he said bitterly, only fulfilled the prophecies of Patty's captors; he recalled that members of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army, who kidnaped Patty on Feb. 4, 1974, had warned her that "if you go back, society is going to be very harsh, and they are going to punish you."

U.S. District Court Judge Oliver J. Carter had a different view. The verdict, he said, was "well within the evidence presented in this case, and therefore has been accepted." In mid-April, Carter is scheduled to pass sentence on Patty. The maximum—but unlikely—penalty: 35 years in prison (25 for willingly taking part in the armed robbery of a branch of the Hibernia Bank on April 15, 1974; ten for the ancillary charge of use of a firearm while committing a felony). The minimum possible sentence: simple probation.

Whether Patty would actually go to prison remained uncertain. Bailey immediately announced that he planned to appeal, and some leading lawyers felt that he had solid grounds for his motion (see box page 28). But Patty has a good deal more to worry about than her eventual fate in this case. The jury had hardly pronounced her guilty in San Francisco than Los Angeles County District Attorney John Van de Kamp announced that "she'll be brought down as soon as possible" to face an entirely different set of charges on the state level. Patty stands accused of kidnaping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon—eleven counts in all—stemming from a shoplifting spree at a sporting-goods store outside Los Angeles on May 16, 1974. During the melee, Patty fired off bursts of shots to cover the retreat of S.L.A. Members William and Emily Harris, who face trial on the same charges. If found guilty of kidnaping "for the purpose of robbery," Patty could get a life sentence.

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