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January 11, 2010

Defendant Allowed To Put On Defense That Killing Abortionist Was Justified

I emailed Gabe to ask if this was a big deal legally and he said yes, so....

But what had been expected to be a simple trial was altered Friday when Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert decided he would allow Roeder to build a defense case calling for a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter because he sincerely believed the May 31 slaying would save unborn children.

Kansas law defines voluntary manslaughter as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force." A conviction on that charge could bring a prison sentence closer to five years, instead of a life term for first-degree murder.

Prosecutors on Monday challenged the ruling, arguing that such a defense should not be considered because there is no evidence Tiller posed an imminent threat at the time of the killing.

"The State encourages this Court to not be the first to enable a defendant to justify premeditated murder because of an emotionally charged political belief," the prosecution wrote. "Such a ruling has far reaching consequences and would be contrary to Kansas law."

The judge hasn't made a final ruling and may still not allow the jury to consider the lesser charge but won't decide on that until after the defense puts on its case. By then the jury and the public will have heard Roeder's motivation for the killing.

I'm going to defer to Gabe that this is something of an odd decision based on the law and simply say it strikes me as an absolutely horrible precedent if allowed. The fact that one person really, really believes strongly that what they are doing is right or necessary is irrelevant.

I know there's a sub-set of the pro-life movement that believes in the morality of this kind of action (though it's obviously a very small one) but there's simply no logical way that someone can be justified in killing or harming another individual for doing something that is legal no matter how much they think it shouldn't be allowed.

I don't know if the mere allowing of this defense to be put on is going to result in more violence as some fear but I don't like the idea of politicizing trials like this.


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posted by DrewM. at 08:07 PM

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