by Steven Ertelt
June 19, 2007
Buffalo, NY (LifeNews.com) — James Kopp has received a second life term for shooting and killing abortion practitioner James Slepian in 1998. The first sentence related directly to his actions and the second comes as a result of him violating a federal law prohibiting the blocking of abortion facilities.
Kopp was convicted of killing the New York abortion practitioner and received a second sentence Tuesday for running afoul of the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which targets violent abortion protests.
The vigilante shooter, who is not affiliated with any pro-life groups, also received an additional 10 years in prison on a violent weapons charge.
Kopp spoke for about an hour before the sentencing and the Associated Press indicated he rambled about legal cases and his personal views on abortion. He repeated his claim to not have wanted to kill Slepian, preferring to injure him and stop him from doing abortions.
"Tragic, horrible ricochet. That’s how he died," said Kopp.
Lynne Slepian read a statement before the ruling and sought to vilify pro-life advocates based on Kopp’s actions.
"We should all be very, very afraid that this sick mentality of James Kopp and his followers still exists," she said, according to an AP report.
Pro-life groups have soundly condemned Kopp’s actions and say that killing as a solution is no different from abortion itself.
Kopp is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the killing and even though he will be in his 70s before he is eligible for a parole hearing, prosecutors wanted to convict Kopp on the FACE charges to spare Slepian’s family from having to endure it.
U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, who ruled in favor of the life sentence, said during the trial that Kopp couldn’t talk about his views against abortion and abortion-related buttons or clothing were been prohibited from the court chambers during the trial.
During the trial, Kopp has 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.