Eric Rudolph pleads guilty to Alabama bombing

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty Wednesday to a 1998 abortion clinic bombing that killed a police officer, the first in a string of bombings that he has admitted to as part of a plea deal.

Rudolph arrived at the federal court in Birmingham in a car surrounded by 10 marked and unmarked police vehicles. He was expected to plead guilty to three other bombings later Wednesday, including the blast at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

His attorney said Rudolph eventually planned to explain how and why he committed the string of bombings, but in court would likely do the minimum required by law to convince a judge of his guilt: Answering “yes” when asked if he agrees with evidence laid out by prosecutors.

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Sometime after the plea hearings in Birmingham and Atlanta, defense attorney Bill Bowen said, Rudolph intends to release a written statement explaining the bombings, which killed two people and wounded more than 120.

Rudolph will receive four consecutive life terms instead of facing the possibility of a death sentence if judges accept the deal.

Rudolph, believed to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, eluded a 5 1/4-year manhunt in the Appalachian wilderness. He was captured near a grocery store in Murphy, N.C., in 2003.

Under the plea deal, Fulton County prosecutors agreed not to pursue future state charges in Georgia against Rudolph at the request of federal authorities, said Erik Friedly, a spokesman for District Attorney Paul Howard. In Alabama, Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber said he wouldn’t comment on the possibility of any state charges there until after sentencing.

Sentencing will likely be held within three months of the guilty pleas, court officials said.

Authorities plan to hold Rudolph, 38, at the county jail in Birmingham while he awaits sentencing.

Rudolph could be back in Alabama within an hour of his plea in Atlanta, where courthouse security questions are still swirling after a gunman killed a judge and three other people a month ago at a separate, state judicial building.

“We want him back here. We think he’s much safer,” said Bowen, of Birmingham.

The owner of the Alabama clinic that Rudolph bombed hopes his confession leads to the arrest of others she believes may have assisted in the attack. “Absolutely he had help,” said Diane Derzis, whose New Woman All Women Health Care installed security cameras after the attack. “There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Associated Press, via, USA
Apr. 13, 2005
Jay Reeves

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