Death penalty sought in Rudolph case

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Prosecutors are requesting permission to seek the federal death penalty against serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph, according to defense lawyers.

Without giving details, court papers filed by Rudolph's attorneys say federal prosecutors in Birmingham are asking the Justice Department for permission to try Rudolph, 38, on a capital charge in a fatal abortion clinic bombing.

The final decision on seeking the death penalty in Rudolph's case is up to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

, who has not said whether he would approve such a request.

Federal prosecutors, in asking to delay Rudolph's trial, said a decision by the attorney general could take several months.

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin has been quoted as saying she wanted to seek the death penalty against Rudolph, but prosecutors are not required to file papers notifying the court of their plans until a final decision is reached.

Aides said Martin was out of state Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

Rudolph's lawyers were in court in another case and also unavailable for comment.

Rudolph has pleaded innocent to an indictment issued in 2000 in the Birmingham bombing, which killed a police officer and critically injured a nurse in 1998.

Rudolph also is accused in the Olympic park bombing in Atlanta in 1996, in which a woman was killed, and a pair of bombings that targeted a lesbian nightclub and a building housing an abortion clinic in Atlanta in 1997.

He was arrested on May 31 in Murphy, N.C., after a five-year hunt. Ashcroft has said Rudolph will stand trial first in Birmingham, then Atlanta.

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