BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – For the pain of losing an eye and going through 21 operations since she was maimed by a blast at an abortion clinic, Emily Lyons has gotten all she ever expects to receive from the bomber, Eric Rudolph: $57.69.
Lyons was among the first victims to receive a share of the $2.3 million in restitution that Rudolph was ordered to pay after pleading guilty last year in a string of crimes that included the Birmingham clinic attack and the Atlanta Olympics bombing.
While Lyons laughs at the amount she received — "Right now it's a tank and a little more of gas," she said Monday — others view the paltry payments as a disgrace.
"The best thing would have been not to do anything," said Diane Derzis, owner of the clinic that was bombed in 1998 in an attack that also killed a police officer. "To almost lose your life, to lose an eye, to go through all those surgeries and get that little amount — it's unbelievable."
Lyons got her check in January. Derzis got $38.42 around the same time. John Hawthorne, whose wife, Alice, was killed in the Olympics bombing in 1996, is still waiting for his.
Hawthorne said he is not concerned about the money. Instead, he said, "We just want to make sure that if there are any royalties to be made from books or movies or anything that that money doesn't go to him or his family."
Rudolph is serving four life terms for the Birmingham and Atlanta attacks and two other bombings in Atlanta in 1997. In all, about 110 people were considered victims in the Atlanta cases.
In closing the file on the case, judges ordered Rudolph to pay $2,311,703 to everyone identified as a victim. The order was largely symbolic since Rudolph was previously declared indigent, but there were a few sources of money.
Court officials seized $1,700 in cash that was found in Rudolph's rented trailer in Murphy, N.C., and they also raised $2,639 in an auction of items Rudolph left in a rented storage space.
After deducting $1,000 for court costs, the remainder was to be split among the victims. It is unclear how many people have gotten checks or how much has been paid out because those records are not open to the public.
Aside from the restitution, an Alabama judge in 2003 awarded Lyons and her husband $115 million in a lawsuit against Rudolph. Nothing was ever paid.
Lyons' husband, Jeff Lyons, said the small restitution checks were ironic, considering court-appointed attorneys were paid $4 million to defend Rudolph. But Jeff Lyons said he is not complaining.
"I wanted Emily to be alive and I wanted Rudolph to be gone, and I got that," he said.