Shooter of Abortion Practitioner George Tiller to Rely on Justifiable Homicide

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Shooter of Abortion Practitioner George Tiller to Rely on Justifiable Homicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 10
, 2009

Wichita, KS ( — The man who stands accused of shooting and killing late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller plans to rely on a justifiable homicide defense in court. Scott Roeder told The Associated Press in a 30-minute phone interview that he was motivated to kill Tiller because he does abortions.

In the interview, Roeder admits to killing Tiller and plans to use the defense even though courts have traditionally rejected it.

"Defending innocent life – that is what prompted me. It is pretty simple," the 51-yea-old former militia activists not affiliated with any pro-life groups, told AP.

Roeder also indicated he would kill another abortion practitioner if he is ever released from prison.

"[E]ven if one changed her mind it would be worth it,” he told AP from jail. “No, I don’t have any regrets."

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.

But Roeder, if in a conflict with his public defender, could dismiss him and represent himself with the justifiable homicide defense or find an attorney who will.

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."

Roeder, who shot Tiller prior to a Michigan man killing a pro-life advocate outside a local high school for protesting abortion, will not go on trial until next year. The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office said last month that it is not prepared to take Roeder to trial until next year.

The date had been scheduled 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 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.

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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