by Steven Ertelt
June 18, 2007
Buffalo, NY (LifeNews.com) — James Kopp, who was convicted of killing New York abortion practitioner Barnett Slepian in 1998, could get a life term in prison after a sentencing hearing tomorrow. Kopp is accused of violating the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which targets violent abortion protests.
Kopp went on trial in January in federal court in Buffalo, New York and federal prosecutors hope he will be convicted of the charges.
He is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the killing but is also charged with the FACE law and charged with using a firearm during a violent crime.
Even though Kopp will be in his 70s before he is eligible for a parole hearing, prosecutors want to convict Kopp on the FACE charges to spare Slepian’s family from having to endure it.
Kopp, who has no connection to pro-life groups, has been defending himself in the case and preparing his defense from prison.
U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, who will make the decision tomorrow, ruled that Kopp cannot talk about his views against abortion and abortion-related buttons or clothing have been prohibited from the court chambers during the trial.
Kopp compared himself to Dr. Martin Luther King — a comparison U.S. Attorney Kathleen Mehltretter objected to in a memo to Judge Arcara.
“There is no comparison,” Mehltretter said, according to the Buffalo News. “Dr. King did not shoot people who opposed his ideas.”
Only a handful of radicals have written to Kopp saying they supported his actions but prosecutors cite those letters as more proof that Kopp should never go free. They worry he will kill another abortion practitioner.
Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder four months after confessing the shooting.
During his confession, made to the Buffalo News and WNBC, Kopp said he hid in the woods behind Slepian’s house and shot him with a high-powered rifle as he made dinner in his kitchen. Kopp said he hoped to only injure the abortion practitioner, and not kill him, so he could no longer do abortions in Buffalo.
After the shooting, Kopp fled from authorities and was on the lam for about two years. A woman named Loretta Marra helped Kopp evade arrest and escape to Europe for a short time.