Scott Roeder Wants Justifiable Homicide Defense in George Tiller Abortion Case
by Steven Ertelt
August 31, 2009
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Militia activist Scott Roeder says he wants to use a justifiable homicide defense in connection with charges that he shot and killed late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller. Roeder, who has no affiliations with any pro-life groups, may employ an attorney who helped another man who killed an abortion practitioner.
Roeder, a 51-year-old resident of Kansas City, is also charged with aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two members of Tiller’s church as he fled the scene.
He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and the aggravated assault charges in the May 31 shooting.
Roeder has told the Associated Press that Tiller’s killing was justified to save "the lives of unborn children’ even though it appears Tiller may have hurt himself by allegedly violating state law and doing illegal late-term abortions.
Now, although Roeder has court-appointed defense attorneys, he wants Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion practitioner, to represent him.
Hill was executed in 2003 after the Florida Supreme Court rejected Hirsh’s argument that the judge in the case should have allowed Hill the opportunity to use justifiable homicide as a defense.
Hirsh confirmed to an AP reporter that he has spoken to Roeder in recent weeks about representing him, but he has not been retained. He also said he had not researched the case and Kansas law well enough to know if the defense could be used.
Roeder is currently slated to face trial on September 21, but his current defense attorney, public defender Mark Rudy, is expected to file a continuance.
Defense attorneys are not likely to rely on self-defense as a possible defense for Roeder because Roeder was not defending himself or anyone else at the time of the shooting.
Some observers say Roeder’s defense attorney could say Roeder suffered from mental illness at various times in his life.
Roeder says he is not mentally ill now, although his family members have told the media that he has suffered from mental health issues throughout his life. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens and Roeder blames that on drug use at the time.
Roeder faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder.
Tiller was one of the few abortion practitioners in the United States to do late-term abortions and he had been a subject of legal and peaceful efforts by pro-life groups at the time of the shooting.
Organizations had been working to get the state medical board to revoke Tiller’s license because of allegations that some of the abortions he did violated state law but not having an independent physician certify they were necessary.
Hundreds of pro-life groups condemned the Tiller shooting immediately or in the days following, but that didn’t stop abortion advocates from claiming they supported the killing or calling the majority of Americans who take a pro-life view "terrorists."
"The National Right to Life Committee unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation. The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal," it said.
Meanwhile, Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar told AP that the federal government is looking at federal charges against Roeder in connection with Tiller’s death.
Roeder is a former militia activist who has no official connections with pro-life groups.
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