Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

Attorneys of man who says he killed George Tiller ask for change of venue

November 12, 2009, 7:59 a.m. Updated November 12, 2009, 3:40 p.m.


— Lawyers for a man who has publicly admitted killing a Kansas abortion provider have asked a judge to move his trial out of Wichita, arguing potential jurors have been subject to such vast pretrial publicity that it becomes “legal fiction” to assume jurors will presume him innocent.

Defense attorneys for Scott Roeder also said in their motion, made public Thursday, that for tactical reasons the prosecution is not seeking the admission of his “confession” at trial.

Roeder is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 11 in Sedgwick County District Court. The 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man is charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death of Dr. George Tiller. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the melee in the foyer of the doctor’s Wichita church.

“The death of George Tiller represented the confluence of controversial issues deeply ingrained into the mindset of multiple generations of Wichita residents,” defense attorneys wrote, noting the “point-blank shooting of the world’s most famous abortionist, accomplished in a House of Worship, set against the background of the heated, bitter debate which surrounds the act of human abortion.”

His lawyers cited as an example the Wichita Eagle, which ran daily stories relating to the death of Tiller and the defendant for 11 days following the shooting. They noted Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston was widely quoted claiming the defendant was engaged in acts of American “terrorism.”

Roeder said in a call from jail Thursday that his attorneys have also tried to get Foulston removed from the case, but the judge refused. There is no indication of such a move in the court record, but some motions have been filed under seal or argued during closed hearings.

The request for a change in venue was filed Tuesday, a day after Roeder told The Associated Press and the Kansas City Star in jailhouse calls that he shot Tiller to save unborn children. He also said he had no regrets.

“Much of the information disseminated to the people of Sedgwick County relative to the defendant’s background will be inadmissible at the trial of this matter, and additionally, for tactical reasons, the State will not be seeking the admission of much of the material, including his ’confession,”’ defense attorneys wrote.

A hearing on the matter is set for Dec. 22 before Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert.


mickeyrat 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow. What... can't get a fair trial? ...does Roeder think that Wichita is a hotbed of Godless pro-abortion atheists?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

"Why is there a trial?"

Everyone deserves a fair trial before they get hanged.

imastinker 5 years, 11 months ago

I can only hope that the lawyer is doing this so that roeder can't later say that he had an incompetent defense and is due another trial.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Let's imagine what Roeder's lawyers think a "fair trial" would consist of: 1) A client who doesn't go out of his way to admit his guilt to every reporter within shouting distance. 2) A crime committed outside the view of dozens of witnesses. 3) Circumstances that don't include your client running away and hiding from a crime he "doesn't think is wrong."

ebyrdstarr 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't know tumbilweed, don't you think maybe, just maybe, we should at least require the reporter to whom Roeder allegedly confessed come into court and testify under oath about that phone call before declaring Roeder's guilt to be proven by admission?

Chris Golledge 5 years, 11 months ago

Let's see, admit your guilt so that it gets splashed across every local newspaper, then have your lawyer ask for a change of venue. Ploy?

Jimo 5 years, 11 months ago

My understanding is that there are some fine, GOP-approved tribunals available at Guantanamo.

MyName 5 years, 11 months ago

A mistrial just means they get a new trial until they get it right. What you're talking about is an acquittal, and I think the chances of that are incredibly slim given the facts against him.

The only people who would vote for an acquittal are the kind of people who would be disqualified out of hand due to personal bias on the larger abortion issue (as opposed to normal people who believe that cold blooded murder is wrong regardless of the purity of your motives).

MyName 5 years, 11 months ago

But then what you're talking about is Juror misconduct, which again is something that I'm sure the judge and the prosecutors will be making very clear to them and the other members of the jury. Lying about some of these questions, especially since it will most likely be discovered at some point if not during deliberations, can carry the penalty of both dismissal from the jury and possibly contempt of court.

A fair trial means that you get a jury that is not biased toward either the defense or the prosecution.

Amy Heeter 5 years, 11 months ago

I think they only have one shot for retrial after a mistrial. Considering the bias in Kansas( especially Wichita) related to abortion change of venue seeems appropriate

MyName 5 years, 11 months ago

From what I can tell, there is no (explicit) limit to the number of times someone can retried, in Kansas, but it depends upon the reasons for the mistrial. In certain cases there can not be a retrial if there is a mistrial. However, a hung jury is not one of those cases (at least in Kansas).

mickeyrat 5 years, 11 months ago

I think LarryNative was looking for a case where a pro-abortionist murdered an anti-abortionist.

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