Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eric Rudolph: Serial Bomber

Plea Bargain & Sentence

By Rachael Bell

Eric Rudolph
Eric Rudolph

In March 2005, Eric Rudolph's lawyers continued their fight to block the introduction of vital evidence at his April trial. They believed that Rudolph's arrest and detention was illegal and baseless because there is no known law against rummaging in a dumpster, Henry Schuster reported in a March 31st CNN article. Consequently, they filed a motion to have Rudolph's statements made during his arrest regarding the locations of the campsites and all evidence gathered from them to be suppressed, Schuster further stated. His lawyers previously tried to have other evidence blocked at trial, which was taken from Rudolph's trailer, including objects that had traces of explosives on them, among other suspicious items.

However, the defenses motions to suppress evidence were overshadowed in April, during jury selection, when Rudolph surprisingly agreed to a plea agreement. The Associated Press reported that "as a part of the deal, Rudolph provided authorities with the location of more than 250 pounds of dynamite buried in the mountains of North Carolina." CNN reported that FBI and ATF agents found the massive stash in three different locations near populated areas. The dynamite was considered dangerous, especially at one of the sites where they found "buried a fully constructed dynamite bomb with a detached detonator." They were destroyed on site because they were too dangerous to transport to a more secure location.

Eric Rudolph cuffed
Eric Rudolph cuffed

Aside from telling the location of the dynamite stash, Rudolph was also expected to admit guilt for all of the crimes for which he is charged. In exchange, he would receive four consecutive life sentences without parole in place of the death penalty. The judge is waiting to hear his first guilty plea in a Birmingham courthouse on April 13th, after which he will be transferred to Atlanta, Georgia to admit to the crimes he committed there.

The bargain struck between the prosecution and defense was met with mixed reactions. Some of the victims who survived were disappointed and wanted to see Rudolph face the death penalty. There were others who supported the agreement because they either didn't believe in the death penalty or they wanted to prevent others from getting injured or killed by the hidden explosives, the Associated Press suggested. Whether he is in jail for life or on death row, it is almost certain that Rudolph will likely pose no more threat to society at large.

Excerpts From Rudolph's Written Statement 

"I have deprived the government of its goal of sentencing me to death."

"The fact that I have entered an agreement with the government is purely a tactical choice on my part and in no way legitimates the moral authority of the government to judge this matter or impute guilt."

"Abortion is murder. And when the regime in Washington legalized, sanctioned and legitimized this practice, they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern."

"I am not an anarchist. I have nothing against government or law enforcement in general. It is solely for the reason that this government has legalized the murder of children that I have no allegiance to nor do I recognize the legitimacy of this particular government in Washington."

"There are those who would say to me that the system in Washington works. They say that the pro-life forces are making progress, that eventually Roe v. Wade will be overturned, that the culture of life will ultimately win over the majority of Americans and the horror of abortion will be outlawed. Yet, in the meantime thousands die everyday. ... I ask these peaceful Christian law-abiding Pro-Life citizens, is there any point at which all of the legal remedies will not suffice and you would fight to end the massacre of children? How many decades have to pass, how many millions have to die? ... I think that your inaction after three decades of slaughter is a sufficient answer to all of these questions."

"No politician in Washington will ever seriously threaten abortion on demand. And the fools who listen to them, in their hearts, know this but do not care. You so-called 'Pro-Life,' 'good Christian people' who point your plastic fingers at me saying that I am a 'murderer,' that 'two wrongs don't make a right,' that even though 'abortion is murder, those who would use force to stop the murder are morally the same,' I say to you that your lies are transparent."

"Answer me, is the causus belli of promoting democracy in the Middle East more weighty for waging war than the systematic murder of your own citizens?"

"Along with abortion, another assault upon the integrity of American society is the concerted effort to legitimize the practice of homosexuality. Homosexuality is an aberrant sexual behavior, and as such I have complete sympathy and understanding for those who are suffering from this condition. Practiced by consenting adults within the confines of their own private lives, homosexuality is not a threat to society. Those consenting adults practicing this behavior in privacy should not be hassled by a society which respects the sanctity of private sexual life. But when the attempt is made to drag this practice out of the closet and into the public square in an "in your face" attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior as being just as legitimate and normal as the natural man/woman relationship, every effort should be made, including force if necessary, to halt this effort."

"Any conscientious individual afflicted with homosexuality should acknowledge that a healthy society requires a model of sexual behavior to be held up and maintained without assault. Like other humans suffering from various disabilities homosexuals should not attempt to infect the rest of society with their particular illness."

Regarding the Olympic Park bombing:

"For many years I thought long and hard on these issues and then in 1996 I decided to act. In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even thought (sic) the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song "Imagine" by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games — even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27th was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand."

"The plan was to force the cancellation of the Games, or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested. The plan was conceived in haste and carried out with limited resources, planning and preparation — it was a monster that kept getting out of control the more I got into it. Because I could not acquire the necessary high explosives, I had to dismiss the unrealistic notion of knocking down the power grid surrounding Atlanta and consequently pulling the plug on the Olympics for their duration."

"The plan that I finally settled upon was to use five low-tech timed explosives to be placed one at a time on successive days throughout the Olympic schedule, each preceded by a forty to fifty minute warning given to 911. The location and time of detonation was to be given, and the intent was to thereby clear each of the areas, leaving only uniformed arms-carrying government personnel exposed to potential injury.

"The attacks were to have commenced with the start of the Olympics, but due to a lack of planning this was postponed a week. I had sincerely hoped to achieve these objections without harming innocent civilians."

"After the disaster at Centennial Park, I resolved to improve my devices and focus the blasts upon a very narrow target. Towards this end I acquired a quantity of high explosives (dynamite)."

On the 1997 bombing at a women's health clinic in Sandy Springs , Ga. :

"The abortion mill was closed that day but occasionally there was staff on hand to clean their blood-stained equipment, and these minions and the facility itself were the targets of the first device. The second device placed at the scene was designed to target agents of the Washington government."

Regarding the 1997 bombing on the gay nightclub in Atlanta:

"The first device was designed not necessarily to target the patrons of this homosexual bar, but rather to set the stage for the next device, which was again targeted at Washington agents. The attack itself was meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington 's continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda."

On the 1998 bombing at a women's health clinic in Birmingham , Ala. :

"The object was to target the doctor-killer, but because the device was prematurely discovered by the security guard, it had to be detonated with only the assistant-killers in the target area. ... I had nothing against Lyons and Sanderson. They were targeted for what they did, not who they were as individuals."

On his five years on the run:

"Washington was lucky that day in Birmingham, they had a witness who happened into a fortuitous position, and my truck was identified. I knew something was amiss based upon the early reports coming out of Birmingham so I prepared to make a move as I debated within myself whether or not to run or fight them in court. I chose the woods."

"The next year was a starving time. Hunted and haggard, I struggled to survive. But I am a quick study, and so I learned to adapt to my situation. I adapted so well, I decided to take my fight to my enemies."

On Monday, August 21, 2005, a jfederal udge sentenced Rudolph to life in prison without parole — four consecutive life sentences plus 120 years — plus $2.3 million in damages. Before he was sentenced, he apologized to his victims in the Olympics bombing saying "I would do anything to take that night back."

Rudolph will be incarcerated the a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, where Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, is housed.   

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