updated 6/19/2008 7:47:00 PM ET 2008-06-19T23:47:00

A woman convicted of serving as a lookout when radical environmentalists set a devastating fire at the University of Washington was sentenced Thursday to serve six years in prison and pay $6 million in restitution.

Briana Waters, 32, was an Evergreen State College student in 2001 when others set fire to the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility, saying — mistakenly — that researchers there were genetically modifying poplar trees.

Waters was convicted in March of two counts of arson after a trial in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. She faced a mandatory minimum of five years.

Her lawyers, who are appealing her conviction, asked U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess to suspend all but 18 months. They maintained her innocence and sought leniency, citing her life in recent years as a violin teacher and as the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Prosecutors had sought 10 years, half the maximum.

The fire, which destroyed the plant research center, was one of at least 17 fires set from 1996 to 2001 by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. In all, more than a dozen people were arrested, and four remain at large. Waters was the only one of those arrested who went to trial rather than plead guilty.

During her trial, rental car, phone and bank records corroborated the testimony of two other participants in the fire, both of whom have pleaded guilty.

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