ATLANTA, Georgia -- Attorneys for accused bomber Eric Rudolph have enlisted the services of FBI whistle-blower Frederick Whitehurst as they seek to get scientific evidence against Rudolph thrown out before his trial.
Whitehurst worked at the FBI lab from 1986 to 1998 and was its leading expert on bomb residue.
During his entire last year at the bureau, he was suspended after making allegations of shoddy work and misleading testimony. A day after he returned to work, he voluntarily resigned as part of a $1.16 million settlement with the FBI.
Jury selection begins in the Rudolph trial on March 23. He could be sentenced to death if convicted of bombing a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic on January 29, 1998. A police officer was killed by the blast.
This time, Whitehurst will be testifying about lab and fieldwork done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not the FBI.
In defense motions filed Tuesday in Birmingham, Whitehurst is quoted as challenging the work of ATF bomb technicians who collected evidence from the site of the clinic bombing, as well as from Rudolph's home and truck after he became identified as a suspect.
"I have concluded that the actions of law enforcement agents who seized and processed various items of explosive-related evidence at the crime scene, and at Mr. Rudolph's storage facility, trailer, and Nissan truck, is not the product of reliable scientific principles and methods, and that these law enforcement officials did not apply the principles and methods of science reliably to the facts of this case," said the Whitehurst affidavit.
Whitehurst also said ATF bomb techs -- who reconstructed the clinic bomb based on evidence found at the scene and who are expected to testify that it involved a remote control detonator -- are not qualified and "have drawn conclusions about the manufacture of the detonator not supported by the evidence."
Whitehurst also testified as an expert witness for the defense in the O.J. Simpson murder case.
Rudolph had been on the run for more than five years when he was arrested by a rookie police officer behind a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina, on May 31, 2003.
He had been the subject of an intensive manhunt and was wanted for the bombings of a clinic where abortions are performed in Birmingham and a string of bombings in Atlanta, Georgia, including the blast that took place during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Centennial Olympic Park.
Posted by Editor at February 9, 2005 05:33 PM