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Feds Close Case On 2001 UW Horticulture Arson

Liz Jones

The last person charged with the 2001 arson of a University of Washington building was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.


The arson destroyed the UW's Urban Horticulture building 11 years ago. Federal prosecutors say it was part of string of arsons carried out by radical environmental activists. The arsonists targeted a UW program they thought was genetically engineering trees.

Former Evergreen college student Brianna Waters pled guilty to helping plan and carry out the arson, but only during her second trial. During her first trial in 2008, Waters maintained her innocence. Now she admits she was lying about something she'd done in her early 20s.

Assistant US Attorney Andrew Friedman prosecuted the case. He says Waters' lies under oath were an important factor in the sentencing.

Friedman: "And the judge took very seriously the fact that she was committing perjury, which really is a new crime at the age of 30, not when she was freshly out of college."

A federal judge in Tacoma sentenced Waters to four years in prison. She already served all but 11 months of that after her 2008 conviction.

Her attorney asked the judge to let her serve this remaining term at a halfway house. But the judge recommended at least five months in prison near her California home. The Bureau of Prisons makes the final call about where she serves her time.

Waters' four–year sentence is still less than what she might have gotten because she cooperated in the government's prosecution of Justin Solondz. Prosecutors say he built the firebomb used in the UW arson.

An appeals court had overturned Waters' earlier conviction and she was awaiting a new trial when Solondz was arrested last year. That's when Waters changed her plea to guilty.

Showing some leniency, the judge is allowing Waters to report to prison after Labor Day. She'll have the summer off to spend with her seven–year–old daughter.

Prosecutors say this closes the book on the UW arson, but three people charged in a connected string of arsons are still on the run.

I'm Liz Jones, KUOW News.

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