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Law

Rudolph reveals motives

Pleads guilty to four attacks, including 1996 Olympic blast


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Eric Rudolph is shown in this sketch at his Birmingham, Alabama, court appearance on Wednesday.
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Eric Rudolph pleads guilty to bombings in Georgia, Alabama.

Emily Lyons, injured in the Alabama clinic bombing, hasn't missed a day in court.
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Revealing his motives for the first time, Eric Robert Rudolph blames the death and violence behind the four bombings he's confessed to in Georgia and Alabama on the legalization of abortion and "aberrant sexual behavior."

The attacks, which occurred between 1996 and 1998, killed two people and wounded more than 110 people.

Rudolph issued a rambling 11-page statement Wednesday after pleading guilty in Alabama and Georgia, declaring: "Abortion is murder. And when the regime in Washington legalized, sanctioned and legitimized this practice, they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern." (Read excerpts)

Two attacks involved women's clinics: one in the Atlanta, Georgia, suburb of Sandy Springs in January 1997; the other in Birmingham, Alabama in January 1998.

Six people were wounded in the Sandy Springs blast.

Off-duty policeman Robert "Sandy Sanderson," 35, was killed, and 41-year-old nurse Emily Lyons lost an eye and suffered other injuries, in the Birmingham blast.

Rudolph said Wednesday that while he had "nothing personal" against those victims, he has no regrets or remorse.

Rudolph also bombed a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta in February 1997, an attack in which five people were wounded.

In his statement Wednesday, he said that while homosexuality does not pose a threat when kept in private, the "attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior" should be met with "force if necessary."

Rudolph also shed light on his intentions regarding the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He called it an opportunity to shame the United States for its legalization of abortion. He said his goal was to knock out Atlanta's power grid and shut down the Olympics.

Rudolph said that plan went awry, calling the result "a disaster," for which he apologized. He said that he did not intend to harm "innocent civilians."

The July 27, 1996, pipe bomb attack on Centennial Olympic Park killed 44-year-old Georgia resident Alice Hawthorne, and injured more than 100 people, including her teenage daughter. A Turkish cameraman, who rushed to cover the aftermath, died of a heart attack.

No parole

Rudolph's guilty pleas were heard in two courtrooms Wednesday, first in Birmingham, Alabama, then in Atlanta, Georgia.

Under the agreement struck with prosecutors, the 38-year-old avoids the death penalty and instead will receive four consecutive life terms in prison without parole.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias called the outcome a success, saying, "There can be no doubt anymore about who is responsible for these crimes. And there can be no uncertainty about the results of long and complex trials."

Rudolph will likely serve his time at a "supermax" federal prison in Florence, Colorado, which also houses "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Sentencing in Birmingham was set for July 18; sentencing in Atlanta will be scheduled later.

In addition, Nahmias said, Rudolph disclosed to authorities where he had stashed 250 pounds of dynamite. (Full story)

"Until last week, a part of western North Carolina was literally a hidden minefield," Nahmias told reporters in Atlanta Wednesday.

"You may not appreciate how much dynamite 250 pounds is until you realize that Rudolph's bombs that caused so much devastation in Atlanta and Birmingham each contained only 5 pounds to 15 pounds of dynamite."

Investigators knew that Rudolph had obtained 340 pounds of dynamite before the bombings but did not know where it was.

Nahmias said that authorities found the material last week -- with the aid of maps drawn by Rudolph -- and it was too volatile to be removed, so explosives experts destroyed it onsite.

That said, Rudolph was not cooperating in the "classic sense," said Nahmias. Rudolph has never disclosed who, if anybody, has helped him during his years on the run.

Nahmias said investigators have so far found no evidence that Rudolph had any co-conspirators. Although Rudolph did approach one friend six months after going into hiding, he had apparently surveilled the friend for weeks, Nahmias said.

And when Rudolph was finally caught in May 2003, it was at a trash container while foraging for food, evidence that he had no helpers, Nahmias said.

CNN's David Mattingly and Henry Schuster contributed to this report.


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