- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty yesterday to carrying out the deadly bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and three other attacks across the South, admitting to one of the crimes with a hint of pride in his voice and a wink at prosecutors.

Rudolph, 38, entered his pleas during back-to-back court appearances — first in Birmingham, Ala., in the morning, then in Atlanta in the afternoon — after working out a plea bargain that will spare him from the death penalty. He will get four consecutive life sentences without parole.

The four blasts killed two persons and wounded more than 120 others.

When asked in Atlanta whether he was guilty of all the bombings, Rudolph politely and calmly responded, “I am.”

He offered no apology or explanation in either court appearance, but his attorneys said he would eventually release a written statement explaining how and why he committed the crimes.

The bomb that exploded at the Olympics was hidden in a knapsack and sent nails and screws ripping through a crowd at Centennial Olympic Park during a concert. A woman was killed and 111 other persons were wounded in what proved to be Rudolph’s most notorious attack, carried out on an international stage amid heavy security.

Rudolph also admitted bombing a nightclub for homosexuals in Atlanta, wounding five persons, in 1997, and attacking a suburban Atlanta office building containing an abortion clinic that same year. Six persons were wounded in that attack, which consisted of two blasts, first a small one to draw law officers, then a larger explosion.

At times, Rudolph rocked in his chair, but otherwise sat expressionless and stared straight ahead as federal prosecutors detailed the Atlanta-area bombings down to the brand of nails, duct tape and plastic food containers used to make the bombs.

In Birmingham earlier in the day, Rudolph pleaded guilty to an abortion clinic bombing there in 1998 that killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse. A much more defiant Rudolph winked at prosecutors as he entered court, and said the government could “just barely” prove its case if it had gone to trial.

With his head tilted back, Rudolph looked down his nose slightly as U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith asked whether he detonated the bomb.

“I certainly did, your honor,” Rudolph said in a tone that struck some victims as arrogant.

With his admission, the nurse began weeping in the front row of the courtroom.

“He just sounded so proud of it. That’s what really hurt,” said Emily Lyons, who lost an eye in the bombing.

Believed to be a follower of a white-supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-homosexual and anti-Semitic, Rudolph hid out after the attacks for more than five years in the mountains of western North Carolina, apparently using the survival skills he learned as a soldier.

He was captured in Murphy, N.C., in 2003, scavenging for food behind a grocery store, after becoming something of a folk hero to some for his ability to elude a manhunt by the government.

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