U.S. bombing suspect pleads guilty in federal court

Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty Wednesday to a 1998 abortion clinic bombing that killed a police officer, the first in a string of bombings that he has admitted to as part of a plea deal.

Rudolph arrived at the federal court in Birmingham in a car surrounded by 10 marked and unmarked police vehicles. He was expected to plead guilty to three other bombings later Wednesday, including the blast at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

His attorney said Rudolph eventually planned to explain how and why he committed the string of bombings, but in court would likely do the minimum required by law to convince a judge of his guilt: Answering "yes" when asked if he agrees with evidence laid out by prosecutors.

Sometime after the plea hearings in Birmingham and Atlanta, defense attorney Bill Bowen said, Rudolph intends to release a written statement explaining the bombings, which killed two people and wounded more than 120.

Rudolph will receive four consecutive life terms instead of facing the possibility of a death sentence if judges accept the deal.

Rudolph, believed to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, eluded a 5ј-year manhunt in the Appalachian wilderness. He was captured near a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina, in 2003.

Under the plea deal, Fulton County prosecutors agreed not to pursue future state charges in Georgia against Rudolph at the request of federal authorities, said Erik Friedly, a spokesman for District Attorney Paul Howard. In Alabama, Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber said he wouldn't comment on the possibility of any state charges there until after sentencing.

Sentencing will likely be held within three months of the guilty pleas, court officials said.

Authorities plan to hold Rudolph, 38, at the county jail in Birmingham while he awaits sentencing.

JAY REEVES, Associated Press Writer

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