Olympic Park bomber asks to be resentenced, using ruling for Boston Bomber as part of argument

Eric Robert Rudolph bombed the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, as well as a lesbian nightclub there and abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. He was captured in Murphy, North Carolina, in 2003.

ATLANTA — Attorneys for Eric Robert Rudolph, the Centennial Olympic Bomber, have filed motions in federal court asking that Rudolph be resentenced and his life sentences be set aside.

Rudolph’s reign of terror began at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. Revelers were enjoying the festive atmosphere when, around 1:20 a.m. on July 27, an explosion rocked the park. Two people died and another 110 were injured.

The Centennial Park bombing was one of four bombings Rudolph would plead guilty to in 2005 to avoid the death penalty. He was arrested in May 2003 in Murphy, North Carolina, when he was spotted rummaging for food in a dumpster.

He was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In the new court filing, Rudolph’s attorney is using the latest ruling for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 27, the Boston Marathon Bomber, to make his argument for setting aside the life sentences against Rudolph.


A three-judge panel of the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether Tsarnaev should be executed for the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

“The government may insist here, just as the government in Tsarnaev did, that the death-resulting or injury-resulting allegations in Counts One and Ten somehow shoehorn those arson predicates into § 924(c)(3)(B)‘s elements clause. This argument must fail, though, because those facts are not elements of the crime and, even if they are, the mens rea for that variant of the crime does not change—it is still recklessness.”

Rudolph’s attorney then cites the Court of Appeals ruling in the Tsarnaev case:

“But even assuming without deciding that the death-resulting allegations are elements (the parties fight over whether they are), we know the minimum conduct necessary to commit arson resulting in death is still recklessness. . . . [T]he fact that death results (when included as an element of the statute of conviction) may indicate the application of violent force. But it does not necessarily involve the intentional application of physical force (i.e., a “use” in the language of the elements clause) as our case law requires. . . . United States v. Windley . . . So the government’s second basis for affirming these contested § 924(c) counts . . . is not compelling either.”

“So too here, in which Mr. Rudolph was convicted of the same crime in the same way. As it applies the minimum-conduct rule, this Court must presume that in each violation of § 844(i), Mr. Rudolph acted with recklessness. And once it does so, we know these offenses do not fit within § 924(c)(3)(A)‘s elements clause,” Rudolph’s attorney argued.

The Justice Department has said it will seek to reinstate a death penalty for Tsarnaev.

As for Rudolph, there is no word on when the judge may rule on this motion.

In June, Rudolph wrote an 11-page motion to the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama asking that one of his life sentences for a bombing a women’s clinic in Birmingham in 1998 be thrown out. The attack killed a Birmingham police officer and critically injured a nurse.