Were federal prosecutors justified in allowing bomber Eric Rudolph to avoid the death penalty by accepting a plea bargain that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life? Rudolph contended that the government agreed to the plea because potential jurors in northern Alabama would view the bombing of a abortion clinic “as morally justified,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. David Nahmias, U.S. attorney in Atlanta, said the government acted to save more lives. As part of the agreement, Rudolph led authorities to explosives hidden in North Carolina.
Rudolph pleaded guilty to four bombings that terrorized Atlanta and the South during the 1990s. The bombings – including one during the 1996 Olympics – killed two people and injured 123. The Journal-Constitution said that Rudolph, 38, “displayed arrogance.” When U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith asked him if the government had proved its case in the bombing of a Birmingham clinic where abortions were performed, Rudolph replied: “Just barely, your honor.” Emily Lyons, a nurse who was injured in Birmingham, said she was “nauseated” that Rudolph’s plea allowed him to dodge the death penalty. “We’ve always felt the death penalty is what he deserved. The punishment should fit the crime,” Lyons said. “It’s just a sickening feeling.”