Accused Shooter Scott Roeder of Abortionist Tiller Won’t See Trial Until Next Year
by Steven Ertelt
September 18, 2009
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Scott Roeder, the militia activist who stands accused of killing late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller, will not go on trial until next year. News of the delay follows a week to the day after a Michigan man allegedly shot James Pouillon, a pro-life advocate who protested abortion outside a local high school.
Roeder, who has no official ties or affiliations with any pro-life organizations, entered Reformation Lutheran Church on May 31 and reportedly shot Tiller at close range.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office said this morning that it is not prepared to take Roeder to trial until next year.
The date had been scheduled for Monday but is now set for January 25, 2010. That is just three days after the 37th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions — which likely means that the trial will color the mainstream media’s coverage of the anniversary.
Church member Gary Hoepner was the first witness called at a preliminary hearing for Roeder in July and said Roeder pointed a gun at Tiller’s head and killed him.
I wasn’t sure if it was a cap gun or what," Hoepner said, noting that he wasn’t certain that the assailant had a real gun to use to hurt Tiller. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing."
Hoepner said he and Tiller were discussing Tiller’s fondness of doughnuts at the time he was shot.
Roeder, a 51-year-old resident of Kansas City, is also charged with aggravated assault for allegedly threatening Hoepner and another member of the church as he fled the scene.
"’I’ve got a gun and I’ll shoot you’," Hoepner recalled Roeder saying. "I believed him and I stopped."
After the incident, Hoepner told the court that he wrote down the license plate of Roeder’s vehicle and informed police.
The court also heard that Roeder attended Tiller’s church several times before, including the Sunday prior to the church service during which he allegedly shot the abortion practitioner.
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 Roeder 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.
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."
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.
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.
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