Victim Will Confront Eric Rudolph

Bombing suspect Eric Rudolph, wearing orange suit, is escorted from a plane after arriving at the Birmingham International Airport, Monday, June 2, 2003, in Birmingham, Ala. Rudolph was flown to Alabama Monday from North Carolina, to be tried in a deadly 1998 abortion clinic bombing.
AP (file)
Confessed bomber Eric Rudolph, who remained defiant when he admitted setting deadly explosions in Birmingham and Atlanta, has only discussed his reasons in written statements.

Yet one of his victims hopes to get some glimmer of response from Rudolph when she comes face to face with the anti-abortion extremist in court Monday for a sentencing hearing.

"You did not shut the clinic down. You did not shut me down," said Emily Lyons, who was critically injured in the 1998 blast outside a Birmingham abortion clinic where she worked as a nurse.

Her message for Rudolph: His crimes only made her stronger. "I want to see if it registers with him, or to see if it's just more of that blank look," Lyons said in an interview last week.

Rudolph, 38, pleaded guilty in April to setting off a remote-controlled bomb that maimed Lyons and killed police officer Robert "Sande" Sanderson outside the New Woman All Women clinic on the morning of Jan. 29, 1998.

Sanderson's wife and son also could make statements at Monday's hearing.

Rudolph, who remained defiant when he admitted setting the bombs and has only discussed his reasons for the blasts in written statements, will have his own chance to speak at the sentencing. He has rarely displayed any emotion in public since his capture.

Defense lawyers did not return calls seeking comment on whether Rudolph planned to speak. He also faces sentencing later in Atlanta.

In a statement distributed after his guilty pleas, Rudolph portrayed himself as a devout Christian and said the bombings were motivated by his hatred of abortion and a federal government that lets it continue.

"The fact that I have entered an agreement with the government is purely a tactical choice on my part and in no way legitimates the moral authority of the government to judge this matter or to impute guilt," Rudolph said in the statement.

Lyons was wounded by flying nails and other pieces of shrapnel in the bombing. She has undergone 21 operations, lost her left eye and has visible scars on her arms and legs. She is no longer physically able to work.

She planned to release her self-published book about the bombing on Monday, her 49th birthday.

Under a plea agreement that let Rudolph avoid a possible death penalty, Rudolph confessed to the Alabama bombing and to the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that killed one woman and injured more than 100. He also admitted setting off bombs at an abortion clinic and gay bar in Atlanta in 1997.

He was captured in May 2003 after more than five years as a fugitive in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Under the agreement, federal judges in Birmingham and Atlanta will sentence him to four life terms without parole. Rudolph's sentencing in Georgia is set for Aug. 22, and victims of the Atlanta bombings will have a chance to speak then.

By Jay Reeves