Scott Roeder Gets Life in Prison for Killing Late-term Abortionist George Tiller
by Steven Ertelt
April 1, 2010
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Scott Roeder, the former militia activist not affiliated with any pro-life organization, was sentenced to life in prison today for the 2009 murder of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller. Roeder entered the Lutheran Church on a Sunday morning last summer and shot him at point-blank range.
Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert agreed with prosecutors, who wanted Roeder to not have a chance at parole for the first 50 years of his sentence.
At Roeder’s age, 52, he will essentially spent the rest of his life behind bars.
Roeder was also charged with two counts of aggravated assault for waving a gun at two Reformation Lutheran Church members while brandishing the gun on his way out of the church.
Judge Wilbert sentenced him to 12 months in prison on each of the counts.
Before the sentencing, Roeder’s friends spoke on his behalf — saying the man they know killed Tiller because he opposes abortion — even though every pro-life group has said pro-life people should only use peaceful means to stop abortions.
Katherine Coons, told the court, "This was not a hate crime. He just had a heart for the babies."
"Everyone I’ve talked to about Scott said he was never threatening or mean spirited to them," added Eugene Frye, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.
Judge Wilbert analyzed the law earlier in the morning as prosecutors said they wanted a hard 50 sentence — meaning Roeder would not be eligible for parole within the first 50 years of his prison term.
Roeder’s attorneys said nothing under the law justified the request but prosecutors rebutted that Roeder stalked Tiller prior to the killing.
Also during the sentencing, pro-abortion Tiller attorney and friend Lee Thompson said Tiller’s killing was a gutless act of terror and hurt the women who otherwise would have sought abortions well into their pregnancy.
A jury found Roeder guilty of first-degree murder after only 37 minutes of deliberations in January.
During the trial, Roeder testified that he shot and killed Tiller because he had grown frustrated that he kept getting off on charges that he was engaging in illegal late-term abortions.
His attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge but District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that was not in order.
Roeder’s attorneys hoped to win a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter, which requires a jury to confirm that a defendant had an unreasonable but honest belief that deadly force was justified.
There is no immediate danger in the back of a church, the judge said, and ruled out a second-degree murder conviction, which does not involve premeditation, because it was clear Roeder planned to killed Tiller.
During his time on the stand, Roeder admitted he purchased a gun the day before he shot Tiller and that he had engaged in target practice beforehand.
His defense lawyer asked: "Did you go and shoot Dr Tiller?"
Roeder replied: "Yes."
He then proceeded to contradict himself and his own actions, which pro-life groups have soundly condemned.
"It is not man’s job to take life it’s our Heavenly Father’s. He is our creator, he gives and takes life. It’s never up to man to take life, except in defense of self or others," he claimed.
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.
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