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Rudolph pleads guilty in bombing of abortion clinic
Scripps Howard News Service


April 13, 2005

Birminghan, Alabama - A resolute Eric Rudolph answered questions Wednesday from a federal judge, acknowledging his role in the January 1998 bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic.

Wearing orange prison garb with his feet shackled, Rudolph stood by one of his attorneys, Judy Clarke, and said he did bomb the New Woman All Women Health Care clinic.

The explosion killed Officer Robert Sanderson and seriously injured clinic nurse Emily Lyons, who was seated behind Rudolph in the courtroom. Also seated behind Rudolph was Sanderson's widow, Felicia Sanderson.

When asked if he bombed the abortion clinic, he said, "Guilty, your honor."

U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith asked Rudolph if he understood the charges against him, whether he was making his plea voluntarily and whether he was influenced by his attorneys in any way.

Rudolph said he understood, then smirked when the judge asked him if he was under the influence of any alcoholic beverages.

Smith asked Rudolph if he planted the bomb at the Birmingham clinic.

Rudolph replied, "I did, your honor."

Smith asked, "Did you detonate that bomb?"

Rudolph responded, "I certainly did, your honor."

Smith asked Rudolph if the statement of facts as read by government prosecutors was correct and covered the 1998 bombing.

"Just barely, your honor," Rudolph said.

The judge also asked Rudolph if he went by any other names. Rudolph responded that he went by various aliases. He said he went by "Zebulum Rudolph," "Bill Carson" and "Bob Rudolph."

Under the alias of Zebulum, he said he attempted to purchase manuals for explosive devices, an assistant U.S. attorney said.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Rudolph will receive two consecutive life terms and pay restitution to the victims, but the judge acknowledged his indigent status.

Seated in the courtroom were Birmingham Police Chief Annetta Nunn, former Police Chief Mike Coppage and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones.

Coppage described Rudolph's demeanor as "arrogant" and a "cold fish." He did not seem in any way remorseful, Coppage said.

The plea agreement hearings were announced Friday. It also was disclosed that Rudolph identified the whereabouts of more than 250 pounds of dynamite hidden in North Carolina. Authorities detonated the explosives.

Rudolph, 38, would have faced the possibility of the death penalty if the case went to trial and a jury convicted him. He was to be transferred to Atlanta later Wednesday and was expected to plead guilty there to three Georgia bombings.

Those bombings include the 1996 Olympic Centennial Park blast in Atlanta, which killed a spectator. Rudolph also is accused of the 1997 bombings of an abortion clinic and a gay club in Georgia. The string of four bombings wounded more than 120 people.

Shortly after the Birmingham blast, two witnesses reported seeing Rudolph's truck in the area.

An assistant U.S. attorney said during Wednesday's hearing that Zebulum Rudolph bought a manual through the mail on detonating explosive devices. He also revealed that there were 5.5 pounds of nails in the Birmingham bomb.

The search for Rudolph sparked a massive manhunt in North Carolina.

He became the subject of country western songs and the inspiration for T-shirts sporting the phrase, "Run Rudolph Run."

Rudolph was caught in May 2003 when a rookie police officer spotted him searching for food in a trash bin behind a grocery store in Murphy, N.C. Rudolph appeared clean and in good health when captured, leading to speculation that he had been assisted in hiding from authorities. No one has been charged with assisting him.


Contact Jamie Kizzire and William Singleton of the
Birmingham Post-Herald in Alabama at

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