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Suspect admits killing abortion doctor

Roeder (The Spokesman-Review)
Roeder (The Spokesman-Review)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Scott Roeder confessed Monday to killing Wichita, Kan., abortion doctor George Tiller, saying he had no regrets because “preborn children were in imminent danger.”

In a 20-minute phone call from the Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas, Roeder told McClatchy Newspapers that he believes shooting Tiller saved lives.

“I’ve already been told that there’s at least four women that have changed their minds and are going to have their babies,” Roeder said. “Even if it was one woman, then who would have a regret for a motive of protecting preborn children? That was the motive.”

Roeder, of Kansas City, is charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death of Tiller. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Tiller, one of a handful of doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death while ushering at his Wichita church.

When asked specifically if he killed Tiller, Roeder replied: “That is correct.”

But Roeder, 51, said he didn’t consider what he did to be murder and that he had no intention of changing his plea to guilty.

“There is a distinction between killing and murdering,” he said. “I don’t like the accusation of murder whatsoever, because when you protect innocent life, that’s not murder.”

Lee Thompson, an attorney for the Tiller family, said Roeder’s assertion that killing Tiller was justifiable was ludicrous.

“Any pretense that it’s justifiable is legally wrong and reflective of the extremism that seems to characterize this act, which is nothing more than an act of premeditated violence,” Thompson said.

Georgia Cole, spokeswoman for Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, said Roeder’s confession would not affect the trial.

“We will continue to pursue our case in court,” Cole said.

Roeder said he planned to use a so-called necessity defense at his trial, arguing that he killed Tiller to prevent a greater harm. Other anti-abortion activists charged with violent acts have tried to use such a defense, but with little success.

Roeder’s public defender expressed surprise at his client’s confession.

“I’m not sure if we’ve had a parting of our thoughts here or what,” said Steve Osburn. “We’ll have to talk with Scott and see what’s going on in his head, I guess.”

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