WICHITA, Kan. – The suspect in the killing of abortion provider George Tiller is in talks with a prominent attorney who represents anti-abortion protesters and has long advocated justifiable homicide as a legal defense in such cases.
Scott Roeder, 51, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges in the May 31 shooting death of Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church. The Kansas City, Mo., man has refused to discuss his case, but he has told The Associated Press that Tiller's killing was justified to save "the lives of unborn children."
Roeder has court-appointed defense attorneys, but he apparently has now turned to Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003 after the Florida Supreme Court rejected Hirsh's argument that the judge should have allowed Hill to present to jurors his claim that the killings were justified to prevent abortions.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled in denying Hill's appeal that his motivation would not change the outcome of the case. "As a practical matter, permitting a defendant to vindicate his or her criminal activity in this manner would be an invitation for lawlessness," the justices wrote. Read on...
While the Justifiable Homicide defense in this case is a long shot, I agree with the Florida court's findings. It is clear that an acquittal in the Roeder case would unleash a flurry of violence against abortion providers and the women who seek to exercise their legal rights. The scary part is that this case is being tried in Kansas.