January 28, 2010

Roeder Shoots for Unique Defense

When Scott Roeder gunned down late-term abortionist George Tiller in a Witchita, Kansas, last May, shock waves were felt immediately around the nation, and media attention was intense and predictably "front page" in nature.

Now that Roeder is actually on trial for Tiller's murder, the national media is offering much more subdued exposure, still covering it, but relegating the story to the deeper recesses of their news pages and web sites. Do the media simply not care as much about the murder of abortionists any more?

I suspect that the left-leaning media is still strongly interested in seeing Scott Roeder sent to prison for a very long time for putting a .22-caliber bullet in George Tiller's head, but they may concerned about popularizing Roeder's defense, perhaps worried that it might work.

Defence lawyers are expected to seek a conviction for the substantially less serious offence of voluntary manslaughter, defined as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force".

Noting that abortion is legal in Kansas, the judge has told Mr Roeder's lawyers that they must show that the doctor posed "imminent danger" in order to justify a voluntary manslaughter plea.

The judge has yet to rule whether he will allow jurors to consider the lesser charge.

I do not think there can be a valid claim that Tiller posed an "imminent danger" to unborn children at the moment he was gunned down, and my layman's perspective is that the judge will probably not allow the jury to consider the voluntary manslaughter charge because of that fact. That argument seem would have the most weight if Tiller had been gunned down at his clinic prior to killing an unborn baby, but as that isn't what happened, the point is moot.

If the judge does allow the jury to consider the voluntary manslaughter defense, that would presumably set a precedent for allowing such defenses, whether or not Roeder is ultimately convicted of murder of manslaughter.

Is the media concerned that putting a focus on Roeder's trial and defense may inspire the copycat murders of the few remaining doctors that practice late-term abortion? Or are there simply more pressing stories in the news cycle?

01/29 Update That didn't take long. The judge did not allow the jury to consider Roeder's defense, and they quickly convicted him of first degree murder.

Which of course made this the current top story on CNN.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 28, 2010 06:16 PM

The charge is First Degree Murder. The jury must determine if he is guilty of THAT charge or not.
The jury cannot convict on a lesser charge then the First.
He walks

Posted by: serfer62 at January 28, 2010 09:32 PM

Late-term abortion is abhorrent, a liberal protestant church accepting and giving succor to a late-term abortionist is abhorrent, but murdering a man in the vestibule of a church is also abhorrent. Roeder is guilty of murder one.

Posted by: zhombre at January 28, 2010 10:26 PM

The fact remains that Tiller would have in all likelihood gone on to perform numerous late term abortions if he had not been killed regardless of where and when (in relation to the next abortion scheduled) Tiller's life was ended. It's a plausible defense - it is the reason Roeder felt justified in taking Tiller's life, therefore it is his defense.

Posted by: Jayne at January 28, 2010 11:30 PM

"Which of course made this the top story at CNN."

Maybe it's just a placeholder while they follow new leads regarding Obama's birth certificate?

But really, what is your point here? This is not a top story? Is there a bigger breaking news story you feel should replace it?

Posted by: Malthus at January 29, 2010 02:00 PM

Of course, there are some of us who believe that Tiller got just what was coming to him.

In a sane world, Scott Roeder would have been given a medal of honor. But alas, Liberals have made a crime out of killing murderers.


Posted by: Patrick at January 29, 2010 04:21 PM

Don't believe me, just look at all of the American Military Personnel we've put in jail for just doing their jobs.

All in the name of "We must respect the enemy."

Posted by: Patrick at January 29, 2010 04:27 PM

It would appear that the judge sandbagged Roeder.

Kansas Statute 21-3403: Voluntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of a human being committed:
(a) Upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion; or

(b) upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force under K.S.A. 21-3211, 21-3212 or 21-3213 and amendments thereto.

Voluntary manslaughter is a severity level 3, person felony.

It is KSA 21-3211 that addresses the issue of imminency.

Statute 21-3211: Use of force in defense of a person; no duty to retreat. (a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force.
(b) A person is justified in the use of deadly force under circumstances described in subsection (a) if such person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or a third person.

(c) Nothing in this section shall require a person to retreat if such person is using force to protect such person or a third person.

Roeder was attempting to argue that, in effect what he was acting under was an unreasonable -but honest- belief in the meaning of the word imminent. In order to make this argument he had to take the stand and make statements to that effect - thereby admitting to every other factual element of both crimes. The judge allowed this, but then rather than allowing the jury to judge the factualness of Roeder's 'unreasonable belief' the judge effectively ruled that the reasonableness standard does not apply to imminency, instead ruling on that issue from the bench.

Kansas Statute 21-3403 is bad law (or at least badly written law.) But what the judge did is not good law either.

Posted by: ThomasD at January 30, 2010 12:08 PM

The jury took 37 minutes to return a guilty verdict. DA Nola Foulston is going to pursue a hard fifty on a life sentence. If she had gone after the death penalty, there would have been a media/protester/douchebag circus and or frenzy. Just put the murderer in El Dorado and leave him there.

Posted by: Glenn Mark Cassel AMH1(AW) USN Ret. at January 31, 2010 12:21 AM

was this murder for political reasons TERROR ? should he be considered a terrorist and tried before a military tribunal ?

Posted by: John Ryan at February 1, 2010 04:18 PM