In 1995, Rodney Coronado pleaded guilty to a fiery act of ecoterrorism: breaking into the office of Michigan State University researcher Richard Aulerich, erecting a makeshift firebomb, and obliterating some 32 years of animal research. Except Coronado swore police had the wrong man. Now, 25 years after the Feb. 28, 1992, attack, Coronado has changed his tune in an interview with the Lansing State Journal. The animal rights activist explains he can do so with impunity: "There are no looming criminal charges against me. I'm as free as any person in this country can be." His sentence at the time was four years and nine months in prison, along with $2.5 million in restitution to MSU and other universities and farms hit by Coronado and his Animal Liberation Front compatriots. He's paid 0.1% so far.
In the case of MSU, Aulerich researched mink; Coronado believed the commercial fur industry was bankrolling his work, and "we wanted [Aulerich and researchers like him] to live in fear," he now says. The Journal details six other fur-related attacks committed by Coronado during 1991, and the clues that led police to him, including a typewriter ribbon and handwriting analysis. He avoided arrest by hiding on Native American reservations until being apprehended on Sept. 28, 1994. Facing up to 50 years, he took the plea, and was only charged in relation to the MSU arson. Coronado, now 50, has changed his tactics but not his beliefs about animal rights, which as a 20-year-old saw him trying to save whales by sinking ships in Iceland. These days, he's campaigning against recreational wolf hunting, but without violence. Read the full story at the Journal. (Read more MSU stories.)