Courthouse Bomber: "I Was Forced to Do It"

Woman faces 30-year prison sentence

By Paul Krueger
|  Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009  |  Updated 12:08 PM PDT
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Courthouse Bomber: "I Was Forced to Do It"

The bomb blast was caught by a surveillance camera inside the court house.

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A woman with a history of severe mental illness pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy and using a weapon of mass destruction in the early morning bombing of San Diego's downtown federal courthouse.

Rachelle Lynn Carlock faces a 30-year prison sentence for her role in the bombing, which rocked the Edward J. Schwartz  Federal Courthouse in May 2008. A motive for the bombing is still unclear -- neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys have talked about one, nor was one revealed at Tuesday's hearing.  However, Carlock did say, "I was in a difficult situation at the time when it happened. It wasn't my own will to do it. I was forced to do it."

Prosecutors said Carlock is the person who actually placed the three homemade pipe bombs at the courthouse entryway. Though no one was hurt, the bomb damaged the courthouse and broke at least one window in a high rise across the street.

Carlock has spent the past several months in a federal mental health facility. In court on Tuesday, the 32-year-old woman said she still has "lots of depression going on." Carlock said she is taking numerous psychiatric medications to help control her depression and other mental problems. She told Judge Margaret McKeown she is "stressed out, frustrated and depressed" and that she is "hearing voices from time to time."

McKeown questioned Carlock extensively to make sure she understood her rights, that she was making her plea voluntarily and that she knew the consequences of her guilty plea. Carlock said she understood what she was doing by pleading guilty to one count of the eight-count complaint. Specially, Carlock admitted that she "knowingly and intentionally " carried and used a "device of mass destruction" when she placed the pipe bomb in front of the courthouse.

Carlock and two other suspects have now pleaded guilty to crimes related to that bombing

More information about a motive might be revealed at Carlock's sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for March 29, 2010.

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