Abortion Clinic Bomber Gets Life

Eric Rudolph, at left, wearing vest, is escorted from federal courthouse in Huntsville, Ala., March 29, 2005, following a court appearance. AP (file)

Eric Rudolph declared Monday that abortion must be fought with "deadly force" as a judge sentenced him to life in prison for setting off a remote-controlled bomb at an abortion clinic that killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse.

"Children are disposed of at will," the 38-year-old Rudolph said, jabbing the air in a speech that echoed a rambling manifesto he issued in April when he pleaded guilty to four bombings in all, including the blast at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. "The state is no longer the protector of the innocents."

Rudolph's fiery statement came as his victims confronted him court, branding the anti-abortion extremist a cowardly "monster" and recalling how their lives were devastated by the 1998 clinic bombing in Birmingham.

"It gives me great delight to know you are going to spend the rest of your life sitting in an 8-by-12 box," said the clinic's director, Diane Derzis.

Under a plea bargain that spared him a death sentence, Rudolph received two life sentences without parole for the Birmingham bombing. Next month, he will receive two more life terms for the deadly Olympic bombing and two other attacks in Atlanta.

Rudolph spent more than five years on the run in the North Carolina wilderness, employing the survivalist techniques he learned as a soldier. He was captured in 2003 while scavenging for food behind a grocery store.

When it was his turn to speak Monday, Rudolph angrily lashed out at abortion and the Birmingham clinic.

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

"He was unrepentant to the end and that surely is not a surprise to anyone involved in this case," reports CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "Like Timothy McVeigh, also a deadly bomber, Rudolph believes he is a noble soldier fighting a sacred war, and I think that's part of the reason why the feds decided to cut a deal and not allow Rudolph to turn his trial into political theatre."

CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta reports Emily Lyons, the nurse who was scarred for life by Rudolph's attack, looked him in the eye and called him a cowardly "monster" who ultimately failed.
  • Francie Grace

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.