Vail suspect pleads not guilty to ecoterrorism |

Vail suspect pleads not guilty to ecoterrorism

Jeff Barnard
Chelsea Gerlach's public defender is challenging the government's evidence against her.

EUGENE, Ore. – Defense attorneys for two people charged with a series of ecoterrorism attacks in Oregon and Washington state said Monday they would seek the defendants’ release based on a lack of hard evidence provided so far by the government beyond the statements of two informants who took part in the attacks.But a federal prosecutor replied he would begin providing more than 1,000 pages of evidence by the end of the week.Chelsea Gerlach, 28, of Portland, and Kevin Tubbs, 36, of Springfield, appeared briefly in U.S. District Court, where pleas of not guilty were entered on their behalf to new indictments.Gerlach, who has been called a suspect but not charged in the 1998 Vail Mountain arson attack, is being held without bail on charges she helped topple a Bonneville Power Administration transmission tower outside Bend, Ore., and helped firebomb a meatpacking plant in Eugene and a tree farm in Clatskanie, Ore. Outside the court, Gerlach’s mother called the charges absurd.

“She is a wonderful person. She is nonviolent,” Deborah Gerlach said of her daughter.Tubbs is accused of firebombing 35 sport utility vehicles at a Eugene car dealership and a U.S. Department of Agriculture research office in Olympia, Wash.They are among six people arrested in four states this month on charges they took part in attacks by the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front on various facilities in Oregon and Washington. Along with Gerlach, William Rodgers of Prescott, Ariz., has beennamed by authorities as a suspect in the 1998 firebombing of the Two Elk restaurant andother facilities that did $12 million in damage.Defense attorney Craig Weinerman told U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin he will file a motion Tuesday seeking Gerlach’s release on bail that challenges the credibility of two government informants who allegedly took part in setting the fires. Weinerman characterized the informants as “serial arsonists” who took part in the firebombings.”The court needs to evaluate the credibility of these individuals before the court can continue the incarceration of Ms. Gerlach,” Weinerman said.

A similar motion would be filed on behalf of Tubbs, according to his lawyer, Marc Friedman.Coffin said he would hear the motion on behalf of Gerlach on Thursday.Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall said he had a team of five people working on more than 1,000 pages of evidence. He hoped to begin releasing copies to the defense by Friday.Coffin also set trial dates for the two defendants.Gerlach will face three different trials.

Trial was set for Gerlach on Feb. 28 before U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken on the charges that Gerlach helped topple the BPA tower in December 1999.Her trial on the charges in the 1999 fire at Childers Meat Co. in Eugene was set for March 15 before U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan, while her trial on charges in the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie in May 2001 will be March 28 before Aiken.Tubbs was set for trial on Feb. 21 before Aiken for the fires at the Romania Chevrolet Truck Center in March 2001.Coffin said Tubbs would not go to Seattle to face trial in the 1998 fire at the USDA research station in Olympia until after the Oregon case is resolved.Vail, Colorado

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