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Rudolph pleads guilty to bombing gay bar

Rudolph pleads guilty to bombing gay bar

Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty Wednesday to the bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., which killed a police officer, and to three bombings in Atlanta, including one at a gay bar that injured several people and one at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The plea will allow him to avoid the death penalty but will send him to prison for life. Rudolph, dressed in orange jail clothes, spoke tersely in answering a series of questions from the judge, including whether he set off the bomb. "I certainly did, your honor," he said. He grudgingly acknowledged that the government could prove its case if it went to trial, but his most elaborate statement was about the attorneys who helped him cut a plea agreement to save his life. "They're very, very good, superlative attorneys," he told the judge. Rudolph arrived at the federal court in Birmingham in a car surrounded by 10 marked and unmarked police vehicles. Sometime after the plea hearings, defense attorney Bill Bowen said that Rudolph intended to release a written statement explaining the bombings, which killed two people and wounded more than 120. Outside the 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." She said it seems Rudolph is being punished only for the bombs themselves and not the deaths and injuries that the bombs caused. "We were a freebie for him," she said. Rudolph will receive four consecutive life terms instead of facing the possibility of a death sentence if judges accept the deal. As part of the agreement, he provided authorities with the location of more than 250 pounds of dynamite buried in the mountains of western North Carolina. The government said some of the explosives were found near populated areas and could have become unstable and detonated. The judge in Birmingham said Rudolph will receive two consecutive life sentences for the abortion clinic bombing, no fines, and $200 in special assessments, and will have to make 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, antigay, and anti-Semitic, eluded a manhunt for more than five years in the Appalachian wilderness. He was captured in Murphy, N.C., in 2003, scavenging for food behind a Save-a-Lot grocery store. 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." (AP)

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