The Patty Hearst Trial Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

Patty Hearst was a normal 19 year old girl, living in an apartment with her fiance and attending university in Berkeley, California, until one day her life, and the lives of everyone around her changed forever. On the evening of February 4, 1974, some members of the left-wing radical group called the Symbionese Liberation Army barged into Hearst’s home armed with guns, and beat up her fiance before kidnapping Hearst and bringing her to their house where she was kept blindfolded in a closet for 59 days. While locked in the closet, Patty Hearst was verbally and sexually abused and she was denied the use of even a toilet or toothbrush if she didn’t tell them that she agreed with the group’s ideas and beliefs. It is believed that while being locked in the closet like this, Patty was being brainwashed by the SLA and that she may have even developed Stockholm Syndrome, a condition in which a person who was kidnapped starts to empathise with their captor, and even starts defending them. This is how the Symbionese Liberation Army convinced Patty Hearst to join their group. They released an audio tape to the public in which Patty Hearst said she was changing her name to Tania and that she had decided to join the SLA. She then helped the SLA rob a bank and steal an ammunition belt from a sports store. After this, she started travelling around the country with two members of the SLA named John and Emily Harris, to try avoid being captured by the police. During this time, the police found a house where some members of the SLA were hiding out. Attempts to make the SLA members surrender ended up in a massive gunfight, ultimately ending up in the deaths of 6 SLA members. The FBI eventually found and arrested Patty Hearst on September 18, 1975. The trial started on January 15, 1976, and Hearst was charged with armed robbery, but her lawyer F. Lee Bailey argued that she was brainwashed and suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but to no avail. After a long trial and 200 hours of deliberation, the jury deemed Patty Hearst responsible for her actions and guilty of armed robbery. Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison on March 20, 1976. Her sentence was commuted to just 22 months by President Jimmy Carter, and later on, in 2001, on his last day of presidency, Bill Clinton granted Hearst a full pardon. The Patty Hearst case is one that caught the attention of so many, and is still talked about even today.

One of the things that made the Patty Hearst trial so memorable is that it got so much publicity. Hearst was a wealthy heiress, daughter of Randolph Hearst, who was in charge of a media empire. If the SLA had of kidnapped just any random person, it wouldn’t have gotten as much public attention, so the fact that they picked Patty Hearst to kidnap is part of the reason why this case is so significant. Patty Hearst was born in 1954 in Los Angeles, California. Her family’s fame came from Patty’ s grandfather, William Randolph Hearst. He was a very powerful and...

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