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January 29, 2010

BREAKING: Scott Roeder Convicted of First-Degree Murder for Killing of Abortionist George Tiller

Just happened. That was a very quick jury deliberation.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for only 37 minutes. Roeder faces life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder.

Roeder also was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault for threatening to shoot church ushers Keith Martin and Gary Hoepner as he fled Reformation Lutheran Church after murdering Tiller.

Whether Roeder shot Tiller at point-blank range in the forehead at Tiller's church in Wichita last May was never at issue; Roeder had admitted it to reporters, in court filings and finally to a jury on Thursday. He also said he had been stalking Tiller since at least 1999.

More in a minute.

On the necessity/justification defense:

But Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert said he could not claim he acted out of necessity. Abortion rights groups became alarmed when Roeder's attorneys asked the judge to allow the jury to consider convicting Roeder of voluntary manslaughter. At the end of testimony Thursday, Wilbert ruled that the jury could only consider premeditated, first-degree murder.

That's the issue that was vigorously debated in comments here. I'd like to know more about why Judge Wilbert refused to allow the manslaughter instruction.

Update: According to this report I found via Volokh.com the judge denied the manslaughter instruction for both reasons we discussed previously: the abortions weren't "imminent" and abortions are legal in Kansas.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:22 PM

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