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Rudolph trial remains in Birmingham

No decision on final trial date


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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (CNN) -- The trial of accused bomber Eric Robert Rudolph will remain in Birmingham under a compromise agreement reached Tuesday by defense and prosecuting attorneys.

The jury pool, however, will be drawn from the entire Northern District of Alabama, a judge decided.

Normally, jury pools are drawn from the immediate three surrounding counties. The Northern District of Alabama encompasses 31 counties.

U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith accepted the agreement after asking Rudolph -- accused of bombing a Birmingham women's clinic in 1998 -- if he agreed.

"Yes, your honor," Rudolph replied.

The judge said he did not find the extensive publicity on the case prejudicial in light of the years that have passed since the crime took place.

Smith said he anticipates a jury pool of more than 500 people from the 31 counties in the Northern District from which to select a jury.

Smith urged the attorneys to come to an agreement on a juror questionnaire and did not set a new trial date, but said he would do so soon.

Rudolph's trial earlier had been scheduled to begin on August 2.

The defense wants the trial delayed until June 2005 because it says it needs more time to review evidence. Prosecutors strongly oppose the delay.

Rudolph arrived at the Huntsville federal courthouse Tuesday morning under tight security. He is charged with the bombing of the New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham on January 29, 1998.

An off-duty police officer working as a security guard at the clinic -- where abortions are performed -- was killed by the blast and a nurse was maimed.

After a manhunt lasting more than five years, Rudolph was caught May 31, 2003, in Murphy, North Carolina.

Rudolph also faces charges connected with a string of bombings in Atlanta, Georgia, including the blast at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympics that killed one woman and injured more than 100 others.

Rudolph's defense had argued in a change-of-venue motion that overwhelming "sensationalistic and biased" media coverage has made finding a fair and impartial jury impossible in Birmingham or the surrounding Northern District of Alabama.

The defense was expected to present at Tuesday's hearing the results of its polling in the district, which found that with only minor prompting, 97 percent of those questioned were aware of the case and 65 percent said Rudolph was either definitely or probably guilty.

Among those who believed the death penalty was an appropriate punishment in a murder case, "Seventy-eight percent felt that the death penalty was a more appropriate punishment for Mr. Rudolph than life without the possibility of parole," according to the defense motion.

Federal prosecutors have said the polling was "rife with inherent and fundamental methodological flaws."


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