An elderly nun is headed to prison for nearly three years after being found guilty of breaking into a U.S. facility that stores enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs.
In an unconventional move, Sister Megan Rice, 84, broke out into song with the permission of U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar during Tuesday's sentencing, leading supporters in the courtroom in singing "Sacred the land, sacred the water, sacred the sky, holy and true."
During the four-hour hearing, she begged the judge to have no mercy in his sentencing.
"Please have no leniency on me," Rice said. "To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor you could give me."
Rice was joined by two others -- Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed -- in cutting fences at Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012 before entering the facility, spray painting peace slogans, hanging banners, splattering blood on the walls and hammering the exterior structure, Reuters reported.
Rice's 35-month sentence is lower than the 62 months given to Walli and Boertje-Obed.
"[Rice] does not have the extensive criminal records the others have," said Thapar. "Her crimes are minimal in comparison to the others."
This Nov. 19, 2012, combo photo shows anti-nuclear weapons activists Sister Megan Rice, left, Michael Walli, center, and Greg Boertje-Obed in Knoxville, Tenn. The three were sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, for the role they played in a July 2012 break-in at the Y-12 National Security Complex. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Saul Young)
The three were also ordered to pay a lump sum of $53,000 to the government for damage done to the walls of the compound. All three were members of the Plowshares movement of Christian pacifists; they entered the facility based on what they said were religious grounds.
During a court hearing, Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed said that they all believed that God performed a miracle in allowing them access to secure portions of the Y-12 facility. And Walli said that he has no regrets over the incident, according to the Associated Press.
"I was acting upon my God-given obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ," said Walli. "I make no apology. I have no sense of remorse or shame. I would do it again."
During the court procession Tuesday, Rice said that her time awaiting trial showed her about the plight of U.S. prisoners. The true criminals, she maintained, are those who create and produce nuclear arms, as she believes many prisoners are victims of the economic system, the Associated Press added.
As TheBlaze previously reported, the July 2012 incident had big implications, considering that Y-12 National Security Complex is the primary location where enriched uranium is stored in the U.S. In addition to uranium storage, Y-12 makes uranium parts for nuclear warheads.
So the fact that three protesters were able to break in and spend more than two hours at the facility without being properly detected led to a great deal of debate and concern, though many noted at the time that Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were never in possession or near any weapons-grade material.