Some victims have moved on as Olympic park bomber faces Atlanta sentencing
ATLANTA – Some 300 seats were set aside so victims of the deadly bombing at the 1996 Olympics and two other blasts could join others in court to see Eric Rudolph sentenced to life behind bars.But only about half the victims were likely to show up Monday, partly because a previous sentencing in Alabama turned into a forum for Rudolph’s anti-abortion, anti-gay views, and partly because they believe it’s time to move on.”I don’t want to give this guy any more time. It’s taken enough of my time and my life,” said Jane Henry of Boca Raton, Fla., who was struck by shrapnel in her leg during the Olympic Park blast.”I don’t need to be there. I can hear about it,” said Calvin Thorbourne of Austell, whose legs also were hit by shrapnel from that bomb. “It’s always going to be part of my life, but I’ve always felt justice would be served.”The bombing at downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park killed one woman and injured 111 people, and blasts in 1997 at an abortion clinic and at a gay nightclub in north Atlanta injured 11 more people.The outcome of the sentencing hearing was determined by a plea deal.Rudolph, 38, will be sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for the three Atlanta blasts. He received the same sentence last month for the 1998 bombing of a women’s clinic in Birmingham, Ala., that killed a police officer and maimed a nurse.He was identified as the bomber after the Birmingham blast and spent the next five years hiding out in the mountains of western North Carolina while employing survival techniques he learned as a soldier. He was captured in 2003 while scavenging for food behind a grocery store in Murphy, N.C.He had faced a possible death sentence, but federal prosecutors agreed to drop that in exchange for Rudolph revealing the location of more than 250 pounds of stolen dynamite he had buried in the North Carolina woods.Rudolph used his sentencing in Birmingham as a forum for his views, portraying himself as a devout Christian and saying he was motivated by his hatred of abortion and a federal government that lets it continue.He called the plea bargain “purely a tactical choice on my part.”Monday’s sentencing hearing was expected to last 2 1/2 hours.Sixty-one victims and relatives notified the court that they planned to attend. About a dozen plan to speak.Some wanted to be there if for no other reason than to ask Rudolph why.One is Tiffani Kelley of Atlanta, who was a teenager when shrapnel tore through her left leg as she was leaving Centennial Olympic Park.”I think about it every day,” she said. “I’m constantly reminded of it because I have a permanent scar on my leg.”While Thorbourne didn’t plan to attend, he said there was something he’d say to Rudolph if he ever got the chance.”I would say ‘God be with you.’ God is in control,” Thorbourne said. “It’s not for me to determine the proper sentence. He obviously has some issues, to say the least.”Vail, Colorado
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