For Immediate Release:
October 11th, 2004
ALLEGED ECO-TERRORIST TO STAND TRIAL ON OCTOBER 26; PRESS CONFERENCE FOLLOWING HEARING, TUES. OCT. 12
Hearing at 9:00am at the Roybal Federal Building, chambers of Hon. R. Gary Klausner
Press Conference immediately following at 10:00am in front of the Roybal Federal Building
Heidi Schwiebert (352) 339-2026
Michael Mayock, Esq. (626) 405-1465
Los Angeles -- Since his arrest in early March, William "Billy" Cottrell has been held in questionable conditions, all the while maintaining his innocence and steadfastly disputing allegations that he is or has ever been a member of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). On March 9, Cottrell was arrested in conjunction with a series of alleged ELF arsons involving southland SUV dealerships.
Cottrell, a 24 year old Caltech PhD student, is currently being held without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. There he awaits trial on nine counts stemming from the August 22, 2003 arsons. Those charges are: seven counts of arson; one count of conspiracy to commit arson; and one count of using a destructive device during a violent crime. If convicted on all counts, he faces a mandatory minimum of 35 years to life in prison.
"The government is seeking a life sentence for what amounts to property damage in the name of environmental awareness. There is no clearer indication of the extremely political nature of my case than the degree to which the punishment is disproportionate to the crime," Cottrell said.
Prosecutors recently disclosed DNA evidence that, they claim, links Cottrell to the scene of the crime. However, "Mere presence at the scene is not sufficient to convict someone of something they've been charged with," defense attorney Michael Mayock said. Cottrell was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, a high-functioning form of Autism. The implications of the diagnosis on his case are tremendous, and recently prompted prosecutors to file a motion to dismiss the evidence.
While in custody: Cottrell has lost a significant amount of weight; has been subjected to intimidation, surveillance and harassment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and has had every well-supported motion favorable to his defense denied by the presiding judge, including legitimate requests for bail. The exception to this pattern was the recent denial of a motion to continue, filed at the last moment by the prosecution. A hearing on this issue will take place on October 12, immediately preceding the press conference.
Cottrell has lost six months of progress towards achieving his PhD in Theoretical Physics and would only like to return to his work at Caltech. In two weeks, on October 26, Cottrell will stand trial at the Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles. Friends and family will be holding daily vigils outside of the courtroom. Media is welcomed and encouraged to attend.
At Tuesday's press conference new information about the status and direction of the case will be furnished. Cottrell's attorneys will be present to discuss these new developments and answer questions. Heidi Schwiebert, Cottrell's mother, will speak about her son and take questions. A public statement from Cottrell will also be released.