Wichita Defiant in court, a man who murdered one of the few U.S. doctors who performed late-term abortions used his sentencing hearing to do what the judge wouldn’t let him do during his trial — justify his crime by describing abortion in gritty detail.
Scott Roeder was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years, the harshest sentence possible under Kansas law for gunning down Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of the Wichita physician’s church last May.
“I stopped him so he could not dismember another innocent baby,” Roeder said. “Wichita is a far safer place for unborn babies without George Tiller.”
Roeder, 52, also was sentenced to an additional year in prison on each of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening two church ushers as he fled. With time off for good behavior, Roeder won’t be eligible for parole for 51 years and eight months.
An attorney for Tiller, speaking in court as a friend of the slain doctor, said the toughest sentence would discourage other anti-abortion zealots from attacking doctors. Tiller’s widow, Jeanne, cried as the sentence for murder was announced. “We only can hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who have conspired and continue to conspire to murder abortion providers,” the Tiller family said in a statement.
District Judge Warren Wilbert could have made Roeder eligible for parole on the murder charge after 25 years. But he said there was evidence Roeder stalked Tiller and added that killing him in a church made the crime heinous because a house of worship is meant to be “a place of peace and tranquility.”
Roeder also took the opportunity to describe abortion procedures in detail, which he had been forbidden from doing during his trial. Most abortions are legal in Kansas, and prosecutors were careful not turn the trial into a referendum on the issue.