Appeals court upholds Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph life sentences

Appeals court upholds Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph life sentences

A federal appeals court upheld the life sentences of Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Robert Rudolph on Monday.

Rudolph pleaded guilty and accepted multiple life sentences to escape the death penalty for the 1996 bombing of the Atlanta Olympics and three other attacks. A three-judge panel ruled on Monday that he is still bound by the terms of that agreement.

“Eric Rudolph is bound by the terms of his own bargain. He negotiated to spare his life, and in return he waived the right to collaterally attack his sentences in any post-conviction proceedings,” Judge Britt Grant wrote in the opinion.

Rudolph had argued a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court ruling relating to the use of a firearm or deadly device during a “crime of violence” legitimized his petition for a new sentence.

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The Atlanta Olympics bombing saw Rudolph detonate explosives at a musical show at Centennial Olympic Park, killing one person and injuring dozens of others. He also admitted to placing explosives outside an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub elsewhere in Georgia, as well as another abortion clinic in Alabama.

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Rudolph’s victims accused the bomber of taunting them even from within his supermax prison in 2007. He had no access to the internet, but a supporter of his was able to publish letters and essays Rudolph penned.

In one piece, Rudolph sought to justify violence against abortion clinics by arguing that Jesus would condone “militant action in defense of the innocent.”

In another essay, Rudolph mocked former abortion clinic nurse Emily Lyons, who was nearly killed in a 1998 bombing in Alabama. He used pseudonyms for her and her husband rather than naming the couple, however.

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Other victims were less concerned with Rudolph’s writings. John Hawthorne, whose wife Alice was killed in the Olympic bombing, said at the time that all he cared about was that Rudolph remained in prison.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s out of sight, out of mind,” Hawthorne said. “I don’t mind him saying whatever he’s going to say as long as they keep him locked up.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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