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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

<font face='verdana' size='1' color =#CC0000><b> * New * </b></font> Rudolph to plead guilty in Atlanta Olympics bombing

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Eric Rudolph has agreed to plead guilty to setting off a deadly bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and three other blasts in a deal that allows the anti-government extremist to escape the death penalty, Justice Department officials said today.

The many victims of Eric Rudolph s terrorist attacks ... can rest assured that Rudolph will spend the rest of his life behind bars, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said.

Hearings have been scheduled in Birmingham and Atlanta Wednesday, where Rudolph is scheduled to admit his guilt.

The plea deal calls for four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Rudolph had faced a possible death sentence.

Defense lawyer Bill Bowen did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Rudolph, thought to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, was charged with carrying out a series of blasts in Georgia and Alabama in the late 1990s.

One woman was killed and more than 100 people were injured in the Olympics blast, caused by a bomb in a backpack.

In the next two years, he allegedly set off bombs at a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta and at two abortion clinics one in Alabama and one in Atlanta. The Alabama abortion clinic blast killed an off-duty police officer and critically injured a nurse.

Rudolph, 38, then slipped away into the mountains of western North Carolina, where the former soldier used survivalist techniques to live off the land for more than five years all while being on the FBI s list of 10 Most Wanted fugitives.

Then in May 2003, he was captured after being seen scavenging for food near a grocery store trash bin in Murphy, N.C.

Word of the deal came amid reports that federal agents have been in western North Carolina this week detonating explosive materials in the region where Rudolph spent his time on the lam.

Under the deal, Lyons said Rudolph confirmed the location of about 250 pounds of dynamite that he had hidden in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Justice Department officials chose the Birmingham bombing as the one to try first, and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft decided to seek the death penalty if Rudolph was convicted.

Right after Rudolph s capture, Ashcroft predicted the Alabama trial would be relatively short and straightforward.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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