Eric Rudolph Sentenced to Life for Atlanta Bombings

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Eric Rudolph was sentenced to four life terms in prison today for three Atlanta-area bombings in 1996 and 1997, including one at the Olympic Games that killed one person and injured more than 100 others, prosecutors said.

Judge Charles Pannell Jr. handed down the sentence today following a hearing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. In April, Rudolph had pleaded guilty to the Olympics attack, as well as to bombing an abortion clinic and a gay bar in Georgia. He also admitted to a 1998 bombing at a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rudolph, 38, had remained defiant and unremorseful about his crimes, saying they were justified by his opposition to abortion and homosexuality. He eluded capture for five years by hiding in the mountains of North Carolina, and was captured by a rookie police officer in May 2003 while foraging for food behind a grocery store.

“Eric Rudolph has learned what all of our terrorist enemies ultimately will, that their violence may cause pain and suffering to innocent people, but it will not deter or defeat the citizens of his great nation,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement.

Before being formally sentenced, Rudolph apologized to the victims of the Olympic bombing, saying he only wanted to harm government workers and would “do anything to take that night back,” according to the Associated Press.

Victim Testimony

In his plea agreement, Rudolph admitted to detonating a 40- pound bomb he stashed in an olive green backpack and hid under a bench in Centennial Olympic Park on July 26, 1996. The blast killed 44-year-old Alice Hawthorne, a Georgia woman who had come to the games with her 14-year-old daughter. The bombing in Birmingham killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse.

Under the agreement, Rudolph also led authorities to several caches of explosives in western North Carolina as part of his plea agreement. He also was sentenced to two 40-year sentences and two 20-year sentences.

Rudolph was sentenced after hearing testimony from victims of all three Georgia bombings and their relatives, prosecutors said. Hawthorne’s husband, John, told Rudolph he was a “small man” and needed to compensate for what he didn’t have, AP said.

Rudolph will serve his sentence at a federal prison in Florence, Colorado, about 90 miles southeast of Denver. It is the same facility where Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, and Richard Reid, known as the shoe bomber, are incarcerated, AP said.

The U.S. Justice Department announced today’s sentence in a statement. Rudolph’s attorney, Paul Kish, didn’t immediately return a message left at his office.

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Bloomberg, USA
Aug. 22, 2005
Chris Dolmetsch

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