Eric Rudolph to be tried in Alabama

ASHEVILLE, N.C., June 2 (UPI) -- Eric Rudolph, captured in Murphy, N.C., this weekend and arrested on charges involving bombings in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., made his first appearance in federal court Monday in Asheville.

Prosecutors said he would be tried first in Alabama rather than Georgia. Rudolph's lawyer, Sean Devreaux, said his client would not plead guilty and would fight the charges. If he is convicted, Rudolph could receive the death penalty.


The attorney was appointed by U.S. District Court Sunday. He is not expected to follow Rudolph to Birmingham and another attorney will be appointed to represent him there.

"I told him (Rudolph) I would be his lawyer until he got somebody else," Devreaux said.

Rudolph, 36, said during the appearance that he did not have the money to pay for an attorney to represent him.

The attorney said there would be no guilty plea, but Rudolph will be given another opportunity to plead guilty when he arrives in Alabama. The timing of the trip to Birmingham was not revealed for security reasons but it was expected to be soon.

"After discussion with the defendant, counsel advised the court that the defendant was waiving his right to enter a plea of guilty here and instead would face charges where those charges are pending," said U.S. Attorney Bob Conrad of Asheville.


"The court at the end of the hearing ordered that the defendant be transferred to the Northern District of Alabama to face charges there," Conrad said.

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin of Birmingham said the capture was welcome and would allow her office to move forward in the prosecution of Rudolph in the fatal bombing of an abortion clinic.

"For the widow of slain Birmingham Police Officer Robert 'Sande' Sanderson and Emily Lyons, a nurse who was severely injured by the blast, this is a day long awaited," Martin said.

"We are thankful Rudolph will now face justice in a court of law," she said.

Rudolph was captured before dawn Saturday scavenging for food behind a shopping center. He was spotted by a police officer, J.S. Postell, who was on routine patrol.

In October 1998, Rudolph was charged with the fatal bombing at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park two years earlier, as well as the double bombings at the Sandy Springs Professional Building in Atlanta in January 1997 and the double bombings at The Otherside Lounge in Atlanta in February 1997.

Rudolph was also charged in February 1998, with the bombing at the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic in Birmingham, Ala., the Justice Department said. That attack killed Sanderson, an off-duty Birmingham police officer, and severely injured Lyons, a clinic nurse.


Overall, Rudolph is charged with bombing attacks that killed two people and injured more than 150 others.

There was speculation that there were several reasons for Rudolph to be tried in Birmingham before he was taken to Atlanta. He was first indicted in Birmingham.

The death of the police officer and the injured nurse could also provide stronger evidence. Rudolph's name had never come up until after the abortion clinic bombing and at least one witness had seen him leave the premises.

"Our approach is designed to provide the best opportunity to bring justice to all of the victims of the bombings, and to each community that experienced these terrorist attacks," Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

Questions remained over how Rudolph managed to remain free in the hills of western North Carolina for five years. When he was captured and at his court appearance, he looked to be healthy and reasonably well groomed.

Devreaux said he did not know what Rudolph had been doing for five years although he had talked with the defendant for more than 45 minutes Sunday night. He said he spent much of the time explaining the legal proceedings he would be experiencing.


"I didn't ask him about where he had been or what he had done," Devreaux said. "My role was extremely limited."

Devereaux also said that Rudolph had directed authorities to a campsite in the hills for public safety reasons.

Authorities would not say if they suspected someone in the hills of North Carolina had helped him.

Murphy Mayor Bill Hughes said shortly after the capture that those allegations were "totally false."

He said although many residents might oppose abortion, they deplore the violence of which he is accused.

Rudolph grew up in the area and is known as an accomplished woodsman and survivalist.

After his indictment, the FBI said they had information he was hiding out in western North Carolina. A massive manhunt was launched and a $1 million reward was posted.

At one point, 200 agents manned a command center near Andrews, N.C., but that was later scaled down. He had last been seen July 7, 1998, when he when he tried to stock up on supplies at a health food store.

It has been reported by several media outlets that Rudolph had ties to an organization known as Christian Identity that expresses philosophies that are anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-Semitic.


Morris Dees of the Southern Policy Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., told CNN that Rudolph's mother was associated with the group and he believed Rudolph was also.

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