Suspect in Shooting of Late-Term Abortion Practitioner George Tiller Faces Hearing
by Steven Ertelt
July 24, 2009
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Scott Roeder, who stands accused of shooting and killing late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller, will face an evidential hearing on Tuesday. Roeder, 51, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller’s death and two counts of aggravated assault against members of Tiller’s church.
Tiller was shot and killed on May 31 at his church in Wichita and Roeder allegedly threatened two church members with a gun as he fled the scene.
During the hearing, prosecutors will present the evidence they have against Roeder and, unless his attorneys waive the right to the hearing, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed.
Should the judge agree that a trial is warranted, Roeder will enter a plea.
The Associated Press indicated that neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys have been willing to talk about the case and that Roeder has not said what plea he will enter.
With plenty of evidence and witnesses, a case will likely move forward and speculation is on what type of defense Roeder’s attorneys will rely on during the trial. Some observers say they 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 Roder blames that on drug use at the time.
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.
Roeder faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder.
Meanwhile, Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar told AP that the federal governnent is looking at federal charges against Roeder in connection with Tiller’s death.
Roeder is a former militia activist who has no connections with pro-life groups and has been described by family as having a mental illness.
The 51-year-old Kansas man appeared during a court hearing in June via a video feed from his cell at the Sedgwick County Jail. Roeder appeared in a red jumpsuit and had a copy of the charge papers in front of him on a podium.
Hundreds of pro-life groups issued statements condemning the shooting and affirming their commitment to employing peaceful and legal means to protect women and children from abortions.
National Right to Life, a large nationwide pro-life group, said it "extends its sympathies to Dr. Tiller’s family over this loss of life."
"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.
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