Published July 18, 2005
| Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Eric Rudolph (search) was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his role in a deadly women's clinic bombing after he angrily denounced abortion and one of his victims called him a "monster."
His diatribe — and the emotional statements of his victims — came as he was sentenced under the plea deal that spared his life. He received two life terms without parole for the 1998 bombing that killed off-duty officer. Next month, he is to receive two more life terms for the 1996 Olympic bombing (search) and other attacks in Atlanta.
"The full responsibility for this would have been the death sentence," Emily Lyons (search), the nurse maimed by his bomb, said Monday in court.
And Felicia Sanderson, whose husband died in the explosion, said, "I want to tell you there is no punishment in my opinion great enough for Eric Rudolph. When Eric Rudolph leaves this earth and has to face final judgment, I'm going to leave the final judgment in God's hand."
Then Rudolph, who was allowed to speak, lashed out at abortion and the women's clinic that performs them.
"What they did was participate in the murder of 50 children a week," he said. "Abortion is murder and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."
"Children are disposed of at will," he said in a long speech against abortion. "The state is no longer the protector of the innocence."
But Lyons, when she spoke earlier, said Rudolph was nothing but a coward.
"When it was your turn to face death you weren't so brave again," Lyons told the federal courtroom.
"You want to see a monster, all you have to do is look in the mirror," she said.
She read her statement in a strong voice and occasionally looked across the aisle at Rudolph.
"It really doesn't matter what you say because I will go back to my home and you will go back to jail. The clinics in town will still be open and abortion will still be legal," Lyons said.
Rudolph, 38, pleaded guilty in April to setting off a remote-controlled bomb that maimed Lyons and killed police officer Robert "Sande" Sanderson (search) outside the New Woman All Women clinic on the morning of Jan. 29, 1998.
He also faces sentencing Aug. 22 in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics bombing that killed one woman and injured more than 100, as well as 1997 bombings at an abortion clinic and gay bar in Atlanta.
Felicia Sanderson, speaking with Rudolph to her back, told the court of the devastation he caused to her family.
"My son Nick lost the only father that he ever knew. I never forget the look on my son's face when I told him Sande was gone," she said.
She said Rudolph took away a man who "touched many, many lives. ... He was always willing to help anyone out."
The clinic's director, Diane Derzis, told Rudolph, "It gives me great delight to know you are going to spend the rest of your life sitting in an 8-by-12 box."
As the hearing began, U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith ruled that any proceeds Rudolph might receive from books or other projects must go to pay restitution to his victims.
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. He called the plea bargain "purely a tactical choice on my part."
Under the plea agreement, Rudolph also disclosed hidden explosives in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he was captured in May 2003 after more than five years as a fugitive.