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August 24, 2004
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A federal judge on Monday overruled prosecutors’ objections and gave Eric Rudolph’s new defense team more time to come up with a plan for fighting death penalty charges in a fatal abortion clinic bombing.
U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith ruled that Rudolph’s attorneys could have until Sept. 15 to reveal how they intend to defend against charges that Rudolph planted a bomb outside a Birmingham women’s clinic on Jan. 29, 1998, killing a police officer and critically injuring a nurse.
Rudolph’s lawyers were supposed to notify prosecutors of their intended defense earlier this month, but they sought additional time after former lead attorney Richard Jaffe and three associates removed themselves from the case for undisclosed reasons. Three more lawyers remained on the defense, and others were added.
Smith rejected prosecutors’ claims that the case should forward since Rudolph has been in jail since May 2003 and since some of his present lawyers were appointed to the case more than eight months ago.
The defense previously filed papers indicating it would blame the bombing on someone other than Rudolph, who has pleaded innocent. But it has not provided details, such as whether Rudolph had an alibi for the day of the blast. Also, prosecutors said, the door is still open for Rudolph’s lawyers to use an insanity defense – a move that would require mental testing in another state.
Originally set for trial this month, Rudolph is now scheduled to go on trial in May 2005, almost two years after his capture in Murphy, N.C., ended a more than five-year manhunt. Besides the Alabama bombing, Rudolph is charged in three bombings in Atlanta, including the one that killed a woman during the 1996 Olympics.
Rudolph is jailed without bond in Birmingham.
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