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Archive for Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Judge cites threats in raising bond

June 17, 2009

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— A judge took possible threats made by the man accused of killing abortion provider George Tiller seriously enough that he raised his bond to $20 million from $5 million, according to a transcript released Tuesday.

During the June 10 telephone call, Judge Warren Wilbert cited comments made by 51-year-old Scott Roeder of Kansas City, Mo., to the media days earlier, saying those remarks cast “a different light” on the suspect.

Roeder told The Associated Press on June 7, “I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal.”

In raising the bond, Wilbert expressed concern about whether Roeder would “perpetuate, participate or enact any more violence on his own or in concert with others.” He also found that Roeder was a flight risk.

“He continues to make statements that cause heightened concern by the Court, and I do have a responsibility for public safety,” Wilbert said.

Tiller, whose clinic was one of only a few facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions, was shot May 31 while serving as an usher at his church. Roeder has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault. His preliminary hearing has been set for June 30.

The transcript of the call was released by the court. Prosecutors did not return calls for comment about it Tuesday.

During the call, Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston told the judge that prosecutors were concerned about the safety of the community because Roeder can “reach out” to several people and blogs. She said a reasonable person would believe the suspect has engaged in “alleged acts of American terrorism.”

Defense attorney Mark Rudy argued “we are taking as gospel” the quotes attributed to Roeder. He said Roeder had been very cooperative with the judge during his first appearance and with his attorneys. He urged bond be kept at $5 million, with additional considerations such as an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts.

“There hasn’t been a hint of any of this alleged anti-government ranting and raving that we have heard so much about, so I don’t believe that should be a consideration,” he said.

The judge also said his decision was influenced by Roeder’s conviction in 1996 of criminal possession of explosives, even though an appeals court later overturned the conviction because the search and seizure were illegal. Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle said Roeder was found with a massive amount of firearms and weaponry and said Roeder said at the time that he planned to use it against an abortion clinic.

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