Judge postpones trial for bomber suspect Rudolph

Eric Rudolph is seen in this June 22 photo as he is led into a federal courthouse for a hearing in Huntsville, Ala. Haraz Ghanbari / AP File
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal judge on Thursday delayed the trial of serial bombing suspect Eric Rudolph until next year, ruling his lawyers needed more time to prepare.

U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith tentatively set opening arguments for May 24.

“The sheer volume of discovery that still must be organized and assimilated by defense counsel is staggering,” Smith wrote.

The trial had been set to start Aug. 2, but the defense requested the delay. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

“We are ready to start this trial, and we regret that the victims and their families have to endure further delay in their journey for justice,” U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said.

Jury pool widened
In Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday, Smith approved a plan to try Rudolph in Birmingham but pick jurors from throughout northern Alabama, instead of just a three-county area around the state’s largest city.

Smith approved the joint proposal that had been agreed to by defense attorneys and federal prosecutors. Rudolph had been seeking a change of venue.

Martin said she was glad the Rudolph trial will be in Birmingham. Rudolph is accused of setting the Jan. 29, 1998, bomb outside New Woman All Women Health Care that killed officer Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons.

“I think it’s important for the community, the victims and their families,” Martin said.

Rudolph also is charged in the bombing that killed a woman in Atlanta’s Olympic Park in 1996 and a pair of bombings in Atlanta in 1997, outside a gay nightclub and an office building that housed an abortion clinic. He became a fugitive after the Birmingham bombing and was arrested last year in Murphy, N.C.