April 13, 2005

Rudolph pleads guilty and remains arrogantly defiant

Eric Robert Rudolph stood defiantly in a Birmingham courtroom this morning, and pleaded guilty to bombing an abortion clinic there in 1998. Rudolph insisted that the government's case was flimsy at best when questioned by federal Judge Lynwood Smith.

Asked by the judge whether he believed the government had enough evidence to prove his guilt, Rudolph replied, “Just barely, your honor.”

After prosecutors read a summary of the evidence in U.S. District Court, Smith told Rudolph that he understood he might dispute some of the prosecutionÂ’s claims.

“But let me just cut to the chase: Did you plant the bomb that exploded at the New Woman All Women clinic?”

“I did, your honor,” Rudolph said.

The bomb was placed in a flower pot and authorities believe it was detonated by remote control.

Smith asked Rudolph whether he detonated the bomb.

“I certainly did, your honor.”

“Are you in fact guilty?” Smith asked.

“I am,” replied Rudolph, 38.

Asked whether he understood that he was pleading guilty to the 1998 bombing in exchange for a life sentence in federal prison, Rudolph nodded and replied: “Correct.”

“Are you satisfied with your attorneys?” Smith asked.

“Yes. I am your honor. They’re very, very good. Superlative attorneys,” said Rudolph, who eluded authorities for 5 1/2 years after the Birmingham blast by hiding in the mountains of western North Carolina.

The 50-minute proceeding ended with Smith pronouncing, “The defendant is now adjudged guilty.”

By admitting guilt, Rudolph now faces life in prison, and avoids the death penalty. The next step is a repeat performance in federal court in Atlanta, where Rudolph pulled off three bombings, including the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics here.

Rudolph's plea deal comes in exchange for his disclosure of where more than 250 pounds of explosives were hidden in the mountains of North Carolina - where he hid from federal authorities for more than five years before his capture.

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