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Rudolph's family backs out of news conference

Rudolph is wanted as a suspect in the bombing of an Alabama women's clinic
In this story: February 19, 1998
Web posted at: 4:48 p.m. EST (2148 GMT)

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- Eric Rudolph's family decided not to show up for a news conference it called for Thursday, instead sending its lawyer to make a brief statement.

Rudolph, a 31-year-old North Carolina carpenter, is wanted as a suspect in the January 29 bombing of a Birmingham women's clinic. The bombing killed a police officer and critically injured a nurse.

Attorney James Bell met with reporters in a Charleston park to read the statement, which called the bombing a tragedy and expressed the family's "shock" that Rudolph had been named a suspect in the attack.

"After much thought and prayer, the family has advised me today that they do not desire to make a public statement," Bell said. "The family and I apologize for any inconvenience that we may have caused you concerning the press conference."

Bell said that life for Rudolph's family has been "hectic, to say the least" since his truck was identified as being near the scene of the bombing. Asked if they were being harassed by the government, he said, "The family asked me to say nothing about that."

Rudolph's mother and two other family members have been interviewed briefly by federal investigators, Bell said.

Dealings 'not hostile, not friendly'

James Bell
Rudolph family attorney James Bell

He characterized the dealings between the family and government as "not hostile, not friendly" and said federal investigators have not indicated to the family whether they think the family knows where Rudolph is.

"If they told us that," Bell said, "it might help clear up the situation."

Bell made it clear that he is representing Rudolph's family and not Rudolph himself. He did say, however, that "based on what I know now" he would defend Rudolph if asked.

But he said he thought the government had made "a large leap" in changing Rudolph's status from material witness to suspect, and that the apparent basis for the change "seems very, very shallow."

Asked about the reports that traces of nitroglycerin were found in Rudolph's truck, Bell said, "I've just heard that as a rumor. I've not heard it's true from the government."

Rudolph should turn himself in

He was also asked why, if he's innocent, Rudolph doesn't turn himself in.

"I've had other instances when people were wanted and on the run," he said, and although innocent "they told me they were scared to death. All they wanted to do was stay out of the way."

Bell also said that if he knew where Rudolph was, he would advise him to turn himself in.


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