Accessibility links

Eric Rudolph Pleaded Guilty to the Atlanta Olympics Bombing

  • Ernest Leong

Eric Rudolph has pleaded guilty to the Atlanta Olympics bombing and a string of other deadly blasts. He will be sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison.

He was accused of four bombings in the late 90's -- at two abortion clinics, a gay nightclub, and at the '96 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Up until Wednesday, these were only accusations.

Then Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty to all four crimes in courts in Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta.

Asked by one judge if he had set off the bomb in the Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998, Mr. Rudolph replied, quote -- "I certainly did, Your Honor."

The bombings killed two people and wounded 120, including Emily Lyons, who survived that bombing, and was among those present in the Birmingham courtroom.

"It was disbelief hearing him so calmly saying he did all of it," says Emily Lyons.

Prosecutors say Rudolph, a right wing extremist, chose the Atlanta Olympics to embarrass the U.S. government in the eyes of the world, because of what he called its abominable sanctioning of abortion, which he considers murder.

Rudolph successfully eluded authorities for more than five years, triggering a massive manhunt in the Appalachian wilderness. The search ended when he was finally caught near a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina.

A plea bargain with prosecutors will spare Rudolph the death penalty -- instead, he will serve four consecutive life terms in prison without parole.

"Why should he sit in an air-conditioned prison and watch cable TV and spend the rest of his life loafing and doing nothing," says one woman.

"It's going to be a sad day for me, knowing that he will not get the death penalty for injuring all the other people plus myself," says Emily Lyons.

Jeffrey Postel, the police officer who found and arrested Eric Rudolph says, "I'm sure it won't bring 100 percent closure, but at least it will close a chapter."

Court officials say Eric Rudolph's sentencing is expected to be held within three months.

XS
SM
MD
LG