New York Appeals Court Upholds James Kopp’s Life Sentence for Killing Abortionist
by Steven Ertelt
April 6, 2009
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — A New York-based federal appeals court has upheld the life sentence given to James Kopp, who was convicted of killing abortion practitioner Barnett Slepian. Kopp, who was not involved in the mainstream pro-life movement, was convicted in 1998 and eventually apologized to his family in a 2007 court appearance.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that all of the issues raised by Kopp in his appeal of the conviction were without merit.
His attorneys alleged a trial judge erred by preventing him from using as a defense his claims that he was preventing abortions and the ending of the lives of unborn children by killing Slepian.
Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder four months after confessing the shooting.
During the trial in 2007 on charges that he violated the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which targets violent abortion protests, he apologized.
"Mrs. Slepian, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I respect you and your family," Kopp told Lynne Slepian after her testimony in the trial.
Kopp, who has no connections to pro-life groups, told the court that his actions didn’t constitute premeditated murder because he wanted to injure Slepian, not kill him.
"Shoot them in the head, blow up a car, riddle their body with bullets like they do in the movies. That’s how you kill someone" with premeditation, Kopp said. He added that Slepian’s death was "a full-bore, 100 percent tragedy."
He asked jurors to look for premeditation or malice in the case and said, "If you don’t see it, that’s me proving my case."
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 was hoping just to 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.
Pro-life organizations unanimously condemned the shooting and urged peaceful solutions to stopping the violence of abortion.
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