A Virginia man accused of firebombing a tree farm and a lumber mill office in attacks tied to the Earth Liberation Front made a request for mercy Tuesday during a hearing in U.S. District Court.
"I pray that the court is merciful with those who have renounced these crimes and have moved on to be students and professionals," Stanislas "Jack" Meyerhoff said after being granted permission to address the court by U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin.
Translation: At the time I did the deed, I thought it was just fine. At the time I thought it was just fine, I wasn't worried about being caught, or about the consequences of being apprehended if I were. But with time, I've changed my mind, and wish to heaven I had then the wisdom that I have now, because I now see how that act has made my present life and my future one a shambles.
Meanwhile, a motion was filed on behalf of one of Meyerhoff's co-defendants, Chelsea D. Gerlach, 28, of Portland, arguing she should be granted bail because the only evidence against her so far was statements from two government informants who took part in some of the firebombings.
Public defender Craig Weinerman would not discuss the motion in detail. The motion was not immediately posted on the court Web site. Weinerman had characterized the informants in court earlier as "serial arsonists." U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin is scheduled to hear the motion Thursday.
Gerlach is scheduled to go on trial along with Meyerhoff Feb. 28 on charges they toppled a Bonneville Power Administration electrical transmission tower east of Bend in 1999. A third person accused in that case, Josephine Overaker, remains a fugitive.
Meyerhoff and Gerlach were both students at South Eugene High School here, where they were pictured together in the yearbook as members of a club called Student Coalition Advocating Peace and Equality.
If Meyerhoff is genuinely repentant, he'll testify against Ms Gerlach.
Ms Gerlach may well be sweating the proverbial bricks right now.
Meyerhoff was in court for a status hearing when he made the statement. His attorney, Richard Fredericks, refused to elaborate on it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall said Meyerhoff made a similarly contrite statement after he was arrested in Virginia.
In addition to the tower toppling, Meyerhoff was scheduled to go on trial Feb. 15 on charges he helped firebomb the offices of Superior Lumber Co., now Swanson Group, in Glendale and the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie. Both fires were in 2001. If convicted on either of two counts accusing him of being in possession of a fire bomb, he faces a mandatory life sentence.
Tragic . . . Mr. Meyerhoff may well be a totally changed person now, but the fact is that if he should be convicted of those arsons, he needs to be punished for them.
Mr. Meyerhoff looks to recognized that he's thrown away his life.
Daniel G. McGowan, 31, of New York City was indicted along with Meyerhoff in the lumber mill and tree farm firebombings. He has yet to be transported from New York to appear in court.
If Mr. Meyerhoff is guilty of these arsons and genuinely repentant, he'll testify against Mr. McGowan. If the two were in this together, Mr. McGowan, like Ms Gerlach, may well be sweating the proverbial bricks . . .
Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy underground group, took credit for the tree farm and lumber mill fires, but not the electrical transmission line tower.
Federal authorities have said in court that an unnamed informant wearing a hidden microphone talked to McGowan, obtaining evidence against him.
A total of six people have been arrested in four states on charges they took part in some of a string of ecoterrorism attacks from 1998 to 2001 in Oregon and Washington.
Other targets involved in the investigation include firebombings of a ski resort in Vail, Colo., another lumber mill in Medford, two federal research labs near Olympia, Wash., and the University of Washington Urban Horticultural Center in Seattle.
One of the hardest things for the young mind to grasp is that it changes . . . emotions and causes that appear on one day to be written in stone and immutable, and worth committing your life to, don't necessarily remain that way.
But actions taken on behalf of a cause cannot be undone — they remain to haunt you even after the cause for which they were undertaken ceases to be a high priority, or an interest, or even a vague memory.
It sounds like Mr. Meyerhoff has learned this life's lesson, but, tragically, at a point in his own existence when he has already become a victim of his own actions, even as he victimized others.
What a waste . . . his future is gone, he knows it, and he knows whose fault it is.