Thursday, February 24, 2005
"Southern Values" - A Backhanded Tribute
Rudolph Defense Claims Carolina Culture Linked To Years On Lam
Feb 22, 2005, 4:26 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Eric Rudolph's lawyers have an explanation for his nearly 5½ years on the lam after an Alabama abortion clinic bombing: His culture made him do it.
The defense has asked a court to allow the testimony of a university professor who contends Rudolph's years as a fugitive are consistent with the culture of western North Carolina, where the serial bombing suspect spent much of his life.
The question of why Rudolph was a fugitive for so long is likely to be key to his upcoming death penalty trial since the government claims his years on the run are a sign of guilt.
In a document filed Friday, the defense said jurors in Rudolph's upcoming trial should be allowed to hear from Western Carolina University history professor Curtis W. Wood.
The professor would say that "Rudolph's retreat to the wilderness in the face of being sought by federal law enforcement is consistent with the cultural values, principles and lifestyles of some of those in the region," according to the defense.
The subculture of the area includes "strong community ties coupled with an independent spirit; living off the land; preservation of individual privacy and freedom; and a persistent mistrust and suspicion of government," according to an earlier defense document.
Prosecutors oppose testimony by Wood, arguing it lacks any scientific basis. A judge has said he would rule on the issue without a hearing.
Rudolph vanished after a man driving his pickup truck was seen in Birmingham near the scene of a deadly abortion clinic bombing in January 1998. He was captured in May 2003 in Murphy, N.C., and reportedly told authorities he spent the intervening years hiding in the mountains.
Preliminary jury selection is set to begin next month in Birmingham. Rudolph also is accused in the fatal bombing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and bombings in Atlanta in 1997.
By Jay Reeves - Associated Press