Newspaper article News Sentinel

Sentencing for Y-12 Protesters Postponed until January

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Sentencing for Y-12 Protesters Postponed until January

Article excerpt

Atomic City Underground

Frank Munger's blog that covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and other things nuclear

Sentencing for a Catholic nun and two other activists convicted on federal charges related to the July 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant has been postponed until January.

U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar last week granted a motion from defense attorneys, who said they needed more time to spend with the defendants -- Sister Megan Rice, 83; Greg Boertje-Obed, 58; and Michael Walli, 64 -- to discuss additional motions and prepare for the sentencing phase of the case.

The sentencing hearings for the three are now scheduled for Jan. 28 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

The three were convicted in May on two felony counts for breaking into the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons facility and damaging government property, which included splashing blood on the plant's storage facility for bomb-grade uranium. The most serious charge was attempting to injure or interfere with the national defense, and that conviction legally categorized them as saboteurs and terrorists and made them ineligible for pre-sentencing release. They face up to 30 years in prison.

Peace groups and numerous individuals have sent letters to the federal judge in recent months, objecting to the government's labeling of pacifists as terrorists and asking the judge to be lenient in his sentencing.

"The court continues to receive a large volume of letter," Thapar wrote in his Sept. 6 order, setting a new sentencing date.

In recent months, Thapar has approved incoming letters and asked that they be entered into the official court record. However, because of the number of letters for this high-profile case, the judge said the court from now on will maintain letters in a separate binder -- available for viewing by request. …

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