SACRAMENTO — A federal judge has rejected Theodore Kaczynski's bid for a trial, turning aside the Unabomber's contention that he was forced into pleading guilty.
U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., who presided over the case here in late 1997 and early 1998, said Kaczynski's case did not warrant a hearing and dismissed the matter.
Kaczynski's claims, he ruled on Thursday, are "wholly without merit."
Kaczynski pleaded guilty in January 1998 to bombings that killed three people and injured 23. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The former math professor argued in recent filings that he was forced to either plead guilty or be portrayed by his attorneys at a trial as mentally ill, which he did not want.
Kaczynski also argued that he had wanted to replace his attorneys or represent himself, but was thwarted when Burrell ruled on the eve of the trial that the request came too late.
"Kaczynski's sense of coercion stems from his preference not to be portrayed as mentally ill and his feeling of injustice at being forced to accept a mental defense," the judge said. "This type of personal pressure does not transform a plea into an involuntary act."
Burrell said that nothing about Kaczynski's demeanor at the plea hearing indicated he had been coerced.
He responded "affirmatively and without hesitation" when asked whether he was entering his plea voluntarily, Burrell noted.