A jury took less than 40 minutes Friday to find Scott Roeder guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting of abortion provider George Tiller in a [Wichita] church […] last May. […]
The murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, though under Kansas law, parole is possible. Mr. Roeder, 51 years old, will be sentenced in March. […]
Defense attorney Mark Rudy acknowledged in his closing statement Friday that there was no question his client had killed Dr. Tiller and had been planning to do so for some time.[…]
“The state…has proved that Scott Roeder killed George Tiller. But only you, collectively, can determine if he murdered George Tiller,” Mr. Rudy told the jury of five women and seven men. He then compared his client to Martin Luther King Jr. and other heroes who fought injustice around the world, saying: “We celebrate individuals who stood up and made the world a better place.”
Mr. Rudy asked the jurors to show courage in their deliberations and told them: “No defendant can be convicted based on his convictions.”
But Judge Warren Wilbert ruled Thursday evening that the jury could not consider lesser charges; its only choice was to convict or acquit on first-degree murder. Mr. Roeder’s lawyers had argued that their client’s actions might better be described as “voluntary manslaughter,” which Kansas law defines as using deadly force in the honest, even if unreasonable, belief that doing so is necessary to protect others from an imminent threat of unlawful violence. …
Judge Wilbert said that didn’t apply in this case, because Dr. Tiller posed no imminent threat to anyone as he stood in his church, and because his abortion practice was legal.
Mr. Rudy, the defense attorney, said in a news conference after the verdict, that … his client plans to appeal the judge’s decision to limit the jury to only two options—a first-degree murder conviction or outright acquittal.
The conviction of Roeder does not put George Tiller’s murder to rest, though. In response to Roeder’s plea of necessity, supporters issued a statement urging that juries be allowed to excuse murder of abortion providers. The signers insist that “What Scott Roeder did is more legal than what judges do who keep juries ignorant of that fact question ['when life begins']. And that if judges will let juries weigh that sole contested issue of most abortion prevention trials, no one will ever again have to do what Scott Roeder had to do.”
In other words, the signers, who include Roeder and murderous abortion terrorists Paul Kopp and Eric Rudolph, justify murder. This statement is much more relevant than the latest communiques from Osama bin Laden. If the signers of this and previous such statements are not on the “No Fly” list already, and forbidden from buying firearms, there’s really no excuse. These are people who have pledged themselves to committing murder, to the absurd and extreme view that the actual lives of women are less important than the potential lives of fetuses, even fetuses which are dead or nearly dead.
There’s a lot we can’t do to predict which people might undertake terrorist acts, but these people have publicly and vocally signed on to a murderous ideology, and deserve the intense scrutiny that rightly follows such a decision.