washingtonpost.com  > Nation > Search the States > Alabama

Rudolph Pleads Guilty to Clinic, Olympic Park Bombings

Associated Press
Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A15

ATLANTA, April 13 -- Serial bomber Eric Rudolph on Wednesday pleaded guilty to the 1996 Olympic Park bombing and two other Atlanta explosions after confessing earlier in the day to bombing an Alabama abortion clinic.

The pleas will spare Rudolph, 38, from the death penalty. Instead, he is expected to be sentenced to four consecutive life terms. The four blasts killed two people and wounded more than 120.


Eric Rudolph, left, is escorted from jail to court to plead guilty in Birmingham. He faces four consecutive life sentences. (Christine Prichard -- Birmingham Post-herald Via Ap)

_____From FindLaw_____
U.S. v. Eric Rudolph

Asked whether he was guilty of the bombings, a polite but curt Rudolph responded, "I am." At times he rocked in his chair, but otherwise sat stone-faced and stared straight ahead as prosecutors detailed the bombings down to the brands of nails, duct tape and plastic food containers used to make the bombs.

The downtown Atlanta courthouse where Rudolph entered his pleas is two blocks from Centennial Olympic Park, where a knapsack bomb sent nails and screws ripping through a crowd at the height of the 1996 Atlanta Games. A woman was killed, and 111 were injured.

In Birmingham, Rudolph pleaded guilty to an abortion clinic bombing there that killed a police officer. During that hearing, a much more defiant Rudolph said the government could "just barely" prove its case in the first of a string of bombings that will send him to prison for life.

Rudolph responded, "I certainly did, your honor," when the judge asked whether Rudolph detonated the bomb in Birmingham.

As part of the plea agreement, he told authorities where he buried more than 250 pounds of dynamite in North Carolina. The government said some of the explosives were found near populated areas.

The judge in Birmingham said Rudolph will receive two consecutive life sentences for the Alabama abortion clinic bombing, no fines, $200 in special assessments and an undetermined amount of restitution to the victims to be decided when he is officially sentenced.

Rudolph, believed to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is antiabortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, eluded arrest for more than five years in the Appalachian wilderness. He was captured in Murphy, N.C., in 2003, scavenging for food.

Authorities plan to hold Rudolph at the county jail in Birmingham until he is sentenced, which will probably be within three months, court officials said.

Outside the Birmingham courthouse, Emily Lyons, who was critically injured in the Birmingham bombing, said she was "nauseated" that Rudolph's plea will allow him to dodge the death penalty.

"We've always felt the death penalty is what he deserved. The punishment should fit the crime," Lyons said. "It's just a sickening feeling."


© 2005 The Washington Post Company