WICHITA, KS — This afternoon during a final pretrial hearing Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert ruled for a second time that Scott Roeder cannot use a necessity defense in his trial, but he has now ruled that Scott Roeder can submit evidence proving that he truly believed that the killing of Dr. George Tiller was necessary. This would now leave open the contingency of finding Roeder guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree murder.
“It’s a very real possibility that there would be evidence that would require me to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter,” Judge Wilbert said, but added “I’m giving counsel a heads-up. This will not become a trial on the bigger issue of abortion. It will be limited to Mr. Roeder’s beliefs and how he came to form those beliefs.”
Despite Judge Wilbert’s words of caution, this new development leaves open the very distinct likelihood that the issue of abortion itself will become even more of a central theme during the trial, which is set to begin at 9:00am CST on Monday January 11, 2010 (Case No. 09CR1462).
Needless to say this has stirred strong feelings on both sides of the abortion issue. Ms. Magazine‘s Feminist Wire reported that Katherine Spillar, the Executive Vice President of Feminist Majority Foundation, had the following response to the ruling:
Today’s perplexing decision is effectively back-door permission for admitted killer Scott Roeder to use a ‘justifiable homicide’ defense that is both un-justifiable and unconscionable.
Allowing an argument that this cold-blooded, premeditated murder could be voluntary manslaughter will embolden anti-abortion extremists and could result in ‘open season’ on doctors across the country.
Roeder, 51, is accused of the premeditated murder of late term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller who was shot to death at point blank range while attending church on Sunday May 31, 2009. Roeder has confessed to the crime saying he committed the murder in order to save “unborn children,” but he has pleaded not guilty. Roeder is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault against two ushers in the foyer of Tiller’s church.
The prosecution has considerable evidence against Mr. Roeder that includes eye witnesses and previous anti-abortion related criminal activity. He also has had ties to anti-government organizations as well as Operation Rescue.
Scott Roeder Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm
Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.
Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.
The Boston Herald reports that David Roeder, brother of Scott Roeder, has said Scott has suffered from mental illness on and off throughout his life. Yet, he goes on to say that “none of us ever saw Scott as a person capable of or willing to take another person’s life. Our deepest regrets, prayers and sympathy go out to the Tiller family during this terrible time.”