Ala. bomber, cop killer sentenced to life in prison

Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama- A man convicted of the 1996 Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his role in a deadly women's clinic bombing.

Eric Rudolph angrily denounced abortion immediately before his sentencing, and one of his victims told the federal courtroom he was a "monster."

He was sentenced under a plea deal that spared his life, giving him two life terms without parole for the 1998 Birmingham bombing that killed an off-duty police officer. Next month, he is to receive two more life terms for the 1996 Olympic bombing and other attacks in Atlanta.

"I want to tell you there is no punishment in my opinion great enough for Eric Rudolph," said Felicia Sanderson, whose husband died in the Birmingham explosion. "When Eric Rudolph leaves this earth and has to face final judgment, I'm going to leave the final judgment in God's hand."

Then Rudolph, who was allowed to speak, lashed out at abortion and the women's clinic that performs them.

"What they did was participate in the murder of 50 children a week," he said. "Abortion is murder and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."

"Children are disposed of at will," he said in a long speech. "The state is no longer the protector of the innocence."

Emily Lyons, who was critically injured in the Birmingham bombing, said in court Monday that she wanted to see Rudolph put to death.

"The full responsibility for this would have been the death sentence," she said. "When it was your turn to face death, you weren't so brave again. You want to see a monster, all you have to do is look in the mirror."

Rudolph, an anti-abortion extremist who remained defiant when he admitted setting the deadly explosions, had previously discussed his reasons only in written statements.

"It really doesn't matter what you say because I will go back to my home and you will go back to jail. The clinics in town will still be open and abortion will still be legal," Lyons said.

Rudolph, 38, pleaded guilty in April to setting off a remote-controlled bomb that maimed Lyons and killed police officer Robert "Sande" Sanderson outside the New Woman All Women clinic on the morning of Jan. 29, 1998.

Rudolph also faces sentencing Aug. 22 in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics bombing that killed one woman and injured more than 100, as well as 1997 bombings at an abortion clinic and gay bar in Atlanta.

Under the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to four life terms without parole for the Birmingham and Atlanta bombings. But victims in both cities were getting the chance to speak about the harm he had caused.

In a statement distributed after his guilty pleas, Rudolph portrayed himself as a devout Christian and said the bombings were motivated by his hatred of abortion and a federal government that lets it continue.

"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 to impute guilt," Rudolph said.

As part of the plea agreement, Rudolph disclosed hidden explosives in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he was captured in May 2003 after more than five years as a fugitive.


Associated Press writer Bob Johnson contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Emily Lyons' Web site: http://www.emilylyons.com

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