Wichita Wichita — An anti-abortion activist says he’s the one who killed a Kansas abortion provider — and did it because it was necessary to save lives. But one of his attorneys says there’s no such thing as a “necessity defense” in state law, and that is not the strategy the defense team plans to present at his trial.
Scott Roeder told The Associated Press in a telephone call from jail on Monday that he plans to argue at his trial that he was justified in shooting Dr. George Tiller to protect unborn children.
“We have explored that possibility,” public defender Steve Osburn said a day after his client’s confession. “That does not seem to be the approach that is viable, nor is it the approach we intend to use.”
Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller’s death and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 melee in the foyer of the doctor’s Wichita church. Roeder has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in January.
He told the AP he has no regrets about killing Tiller.
His calls to the AP and the Kansas City Star came on the same day several strident abortion opponents released their “Defensive Action Statement 3rd Edition” that proclaims any force that can be used to defend the life of a “born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.”
Osburn said he has discussed with Roeder “on numerous occasions” that a necessity defense was not viable, despite what his client was hearing from others. Roeder has said he is looking for an attorney who will present such a defense but cannot afford to hire one.
His former wife said Tuesday that she was in another room when she heard a television news report play an audio clip of his confession to the AP. Lindsey Roeder said she found it surreal to hear her ex-husband’s voice.
“Even though you heard other people say, ‘I saw him do it,’ even though I have heard since 1993 how he feels about justifiable homicide in response to abortion, it made it all very real,” she said. “It was no longer just something we saw on TV or heard in the papers.”
Both sides downplayed the impact Roeder’s statements to the media would have on their cases.
“It is what it is. He is his own man and we are going to move forward,” said Mark Rudy, Roeder’s other public defender.
The defense worked out a plan some time ago on how to proceed with the case, and that plan has not changed, Osburn said. He declined to give specifics on the plan.
“I would highly doubt that the state would attempt to call reporters up to the stand to talk about their conversations with Scott, and I say that because they are not going to want to open this up into arguments about things such as justification, when life begins and all those issues,” Rudy said.
“I anticipate that they will try to keep this narrow, to the point and try it as a typical murder case,” he said. “Therefore they aren’t gonna want to open the door to certain other issues that would undoubtedly come out if the media was put up on the stand.”