Scott Roeder’s ‘Defense of Life’ Defense

Abortion Shooting SuspectIt is official, I guess, Scott Roeder announced to the Associated Press that he plans to pursue a defense whereby he will assert that pre-born children’s lives were in imminent danger and thus his execution of Tiller was justified.  Read more here.

I would say his chances of prevailing with that argument are a little less good than a snowball’s chance in hell.  It is just absurd and it seems like there should be some way of disallowing him to pervert the course of justice so that he can have a grandstand for his cause.

From the linked article:

“His confession 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.’  The statement’s 21 signers demand Roeder’s jurors be allowed to consider the ‘question of when life begins’ in deciding whether lethal force was justified.

“Among the signers are Eric Rudolph, James Kopp and Shelley Shannon — all serving prison time for targeting abortion doctors.”

What do you bloggers think?


Filed under abortion

58 responses to “Scott Roeder’s ‘Defense of Life’ Defense

  1. Anyone else remember the Bill Butterworth case?

    It was back in the 80s. Two girls — about 16 and 12 — were found raped and drowned in a hot tub, the oldest girls car was stolen, and Butterworth was arrested a few days later driving that car. Butterworth was a hot tub service technician.

    So he went on trial. And the Wichita jury acquitted!

    The foreman of the jury then self-published a booklet explaining his view: “Bill Butterworth didn’t kill those girls… SATAN DID!”

    This wasn’t one of those lone-nut hold-out jurors resulting in a hung jury and mistrial; “12 citizens good and true” voted to acquit because Satan killed those girls, not Bill Butterworth.

    So I have my doubts Roeder will get justice in a Wichita courtroom.

    • I remember the killings Butterworth was charged with, but I didn’t remember (if I ever knew!) the outcome of the trial.

      Surely there was more to the jury’s decision?

    • I knew the guy who did a psych eval on Butterworth. I was not convinced of his innocence by that data. Obviously, one cannot ascertain guilt or innocence by psychological tests – but clearly there was no McNaughtion-Positive data there. In other words there was no clear signs that he was NGBROI.

      By some weird manuever the defending attorney Richard Ney (who used to be the head public defender) got the court to allow a psychologist (of sorts) to admit hypnotherapy data that most courts would laugh at, today.

      It was a tragedy. They sometimes happen.

      I am thinking Roeder’s nonsense will not be so successful.

      We will see…

      • lilacluvr

        Isn’t Richard Ney the attorney most of the death penalty cases go to?

      • tosmarttobegop

        Ney is the closest I was told to a real life Perry Mason. LOL he was the defense attorney for a inmate I was testifying against in a case. We had our ducks in a row and ever “I” dotted and “T” crossed as the saying goes. Ney has a talent for being able to use missteps in the State’s case rather then the level of proof to get his client off.

    • tosmarttobegop

      I met Butterworth while I was a jailer.
      I have long said it was a interesting thing about working as a jailer.

      You get to meet those who others only get to hear about. Butterworth was a nervous man both physically and mentally.

  2. Dr. Tiller was performing legal medical procedures.

    If Roeder had a shred of decency about him he would waive the trial and the expense of all this hoopla he doesn’t deserve. He killed a man in cold blood, he has now admitted it. There is no defense for what he did — there are laws that say what he did is a crime and he now deserves to suffer the consequences.

    Abortion has no place in this murder trial.

    I appreciated the fact that Dennis Rader (btk) admitted his crimes and then quietly left society. He did more than enough harm, and at least he didn’t continue to add to the horrors.

  3. wicked

    Would you all like to join me in signing an ‘I Take Offense to the Defensive Action Statement 1st Edition’? It should get us about as far as it does them. No-o-o-where.


  4. David B

    Why Bart Stupak’s last-minute amendment to the health care bill is even more radical than you think.

    The first part of the amendment isn’t new. The 1976 Hyde Amendment already prevents the use of federal dollars to pay for most abortions. Where pro-lifers won big was on the second part, which could significantly limit the availability of private insurance plans that cover the procedure.

    That’s because Stupak’s amendment doesn’t just apply to the public option—the lower-cost plan to be offered by the government. The House health care bill will also provide subsidies to help people and small businesses purchase plans on an exchange. This represents a lucrative new market for insurers: anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four qualifies for assistance, as well as certain small companies. But to gain access to these new customers, insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from their plans.

    • Yes, they may drop ‘abortion’ coverage, but women of means and their doctors will simply call the procedure something different. And, there will be a different reason for needing a surgical procedure. It’s been happening for the ages. Abortions didn’t begin when they became legal. There are always ways around for those of means.

      • I remember in the 70’s when abortions were called DNCs.

        I watched House tonight and one of the characters dealt with his guilt about the point when doctors make the call that the ball game is over. It was a good show.

    • wicked

      What happened to the Republican call of States’ Rights? Oh, that’s right, they’re for it, until it doesn’t serve their purpose.

    • Of course, as always, the ones this will hurt will be the same ones who so desperately need help. But then, that’s the Republican way, isn’t it. Take care of those who don’t need, but kick those who do to the ground.

      After all, someone might get something they don’t deserve! And the Republicans will be glad to be the judge of who is and isn’t deserving!

      If God had meant us to help they poor He would have said so!

  5. wicked

    You know, if it was his ‘child’ who was being aborted, and the doctor was proceeding after all avenues had been tried, I might have a shred of pity for the guy.

    The real problem is that these people believe they can interpret their God’s words any way they want them, even when those words say, THOU SHALT NOT KILL. There is no adendum that it’s okay if you feel the person is doing something you don’t agree with. You know, if we all had that attitude, the wild, wild West would look like a Sunday picnic.

  6. lilacluvr

    This entire trial is going to be a media circus and I suspect more than a few nuts will be falling from every nut tree around for miles.

    I always thought that killing someone to keep that person from killing was something that had to be happening at the time of the killing.

    Pray tell, who was Dr. Tiller trying to kill in his church, on a Sunday morning?

    And I agree with Wicked in the fact these people seem to think they speak for God. I must have missed that memo???

  7. prairiepond

    It’s ok with god to murder a doctor performing legal proceedures, but it’s not ok for me to marry my girlfriend and be on her health insurance?

    Only in the land of wingnuttia…..

    • lilacluvr

      What I don’t understand is how these Wingnuttians justify the murder of Dr. Tiller but have no problem condoning the child molesting priests in the Catholic Church AND those hierarchy types that covered up this molestation for years.

      I guess pro-life is only for those pre-born and not the children who are born and suffer at the hands of these Wingnuttians?

      God gets blamed for alot of what these Wingnuttians say and do. If I was God, I would be smacking some heads together real soon!!!

  8. tosmarttobegop

    It has been a stumbling block for years with a desired law, the example and true:

    Its New Year’s eve and the man is drunk and has a high power rifle in the trunk of his car.
    At midnight he gets the rifle from the trunk and starts shooting in the sky and at a sign in the parking lot.

    Two blocks away, there is a woman who was almost seven months pregnant upon hearing the shooting look out the small window in the front door. A rifle round comes through the door and strikes her.
    She is killed and the baby dies shortly after the mother.

    Now how many counts of murder is that, one or two?
    The death of the fetus was not a choice of the mother.
    Both deaths are the result of a criminal act and the suspect should have known his actions were dangerous.

    When ever such incidence happen there is an argument started that there were two not one killed.
    But many locations do not have it in the law that the suspect can be charged with two instead of one murders.

    Now Pro-life loves these arguments as it give the chance to argue the status of the fetus as a human being.
    Passing such laws can be the Pandora’s box when it comes to abortion, how can you argue that the death of the unborn is murder if they are not a human being?

    That is what the defense of Roeder is build on and the chance it gives to the debate.

    • lilacluvr

      I might buy that defense for Roeder if Tiller was the one that was pregnant – but Tiller was in his own church – not even at his clinic – when he was shot and killed.

      Roeder’s intended defense goes beyond the question of the fetus being a human being.

      His side is trying to say that people have the right to kill a doctor who is doing a legal procedure.

      Even in justified homicide, isn’t it the case of someone who is killed by a person who is witnessing the person killing or attempting to kill another person? For example, some teenage son witnessing his father beat and trying to strangle his wife goes and gets a gun and shoots the father dead. To me, that is justified homicide.

      Roeder did not do that – he went into a man’s church and shot the man, point blank, and the man died.

      And now Roeder says he has no regrets for killing Tiller- so we have a confession.

      At what point are we as a society going to tell wingnuttians that they are not the law and they are not above the law – no matter what they think their God is telling them what to do?

  9. tosmarttobegop

    Roeder’s intended defense goes beyond the question of the fetus being a human being.

    I am not defending his actions but that is exactly the question he is depending on.
    If you are witnessing it and the authorities are not doing anything to stop it.
    Where is the stopping point in taking action to stop it?

    The entire defense and action depends on that very question of the fetus being a human being.
    During Slavery and for many years afterwards in some courts the very issue was if whether Blacks were human or not. Was the deciding factor in whether murder or abuse charges were filed. If the charge or convict of murder is the willful killing of a human being. If the victim is not seen as a human being then the charge or conviction can not be had.

    Today that sound unbelievable but then Black were not seen as even human beings.
    It was not about whether the fact was they were, it was about how the general public saw them as.

    If Roeder had seen someone in a Elementary school with a machete hacking children to pieces and the police was not stopping it. Would we then have such a objection to his shooting the person?
    True the defense does not have much if any chance of being a win.
    But from Roeder’s stand point it is not about him or his fate, he already knew there were two being sacrificed for the bigger cause.

    • lilacluvr

      I can perhaps see this defense being used if Roeder had gone into Tiller’s clinic while he was performing an abortion and killed him. Then Roeder could say he was killing to protect the fetus/human being.

      But how can this defense be used when Tiller was shot in his own church and not while performing a legal abortion?

      Stalking a man (and there is evidence Roeder was in Tiller’s church the previous week) and then killing him in that same church, is pre-meditation.

      tstbg – I understand what you’re saying. These Pro-Life groups are going to try anything and everything they can – up to and including the entire justice system is corrupt, evil and Godless.

      How else could these people justify their support of murder?

  10. Is the prosecution going to try to get the death penalty for Roeder? It would seem to qualify for the criteria, wouldn’t it? It was carefully planned (he had visited the church before), etc.

  11. wicked

    I have to disagree that Roeder’s defense doesn’t have much of a chance, if any. It’s going to depend on jury selection and if the attorneys are allowed to ask a prospective juriest his or her views on abortion or the rights of the fetus. If that isn’t allowed–and I’m not convinced it should be–then to consider the fetus as a “child” during the trial cannot be allowed either.

    If this defense is allowed, it opens a Pandora’s box that I wouldn’t think the legal system would welcome. The Supreme Court has ruled that abortions, under certain conditions, are legal.

    I don’t intend to live the rest of my life under a theocracy, and that’s where this could head. While I understand Pro-Life’s stance, being forced to follow it is Theocracy at its best, and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

    • Evwn if the defense is not allowed, there can be so-called ‘jury nullification’ in this case. The voir dire questions will need to be appropriately tailored and supervised by the trial judge to minimize the possibilities this might happen.

  12. I object to letting Roeder turn his trial for a charge of murder into a sideshow. Is there a way to stop that?

    • lilacluvr

      Is there a way to stop the horse after it’s left the barn?

      The Pro-life groups are itching for this showdown trial. They thought they had it with Tiller’s trial, remember?

      But, of course, if Roeder is convicted, the Pro-Life groups will only say that the jury was hand-picked by the Prosecution and the trial was not fair.

  13. Iggy,

    Yes, but…..

    1) The trial judge needs to be in firm control of the trial to the point of actually excluding those who want to make it a sideshow, regardless of which side of the issue those excluded are on;
    2) The trial judge must be scrupulously fair in her/his rulings on objections, evidentiary motions, etc.
    3) The trial judge must be strong enough to exclude the defendant from the court room, should that become needed;
    4) The trial judge should strongly consider closing the trial to video/audio media. This last step will open the floodgates of criticism from the media, Roeder’s supporters, et al, but it needs to be strongly considered.

    There will be many ‘errors’ alleged on appeals, if there is a conviction, arising from any and all the above. The trial judge must stand firm, notwithstanding this, and do what he/she can to assure the trial does not become a sideshow.

  14. lilacluvr

    6176 – If there is a conviction, how many appeals can the Defense try to overturn?

    Isn’t this where the judge really has to be careful – and not to give any reason for an appeal?

  15. By appeals, I meant both interlocutory (such as on the media access question) and from the verdict. There would be, in both cases, an appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals, and then to the Kansas Supreme Court. An appeal (actually an application for a writ of certiorari) (sp.) to SCOTUS would then be possible by the defense, if the State court appeals were unsuccessful. Then there are the potential habeas corpus filings, and appeals therefrom.

    All trials have mistakes. That’s a fact. The trial judge must be careful to avoid making material and eggregious mistakes as to the law as applied to the facts of the case. There is the doctrine of ‘harmless error’ which is applied often in appellate cases to acknowledge errors were made, but the same did not affect the outcome.

    • lilacluvr

      No matter what happens, the Pro-Life side will not be happy with any outcome other than innocent – IMHO.

      Even if the judge bends over backwards to make sure the defendant is given every chance to make his defense and the verdict still comes back as guilty – there are those people who will never accept it as fact.

      I suspect, these are some of the same people who will never accept the fact that Obama is the legitimate President of the United States – in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

  16. David B

    In other similar cases, judges have ruled that this defense is even been allowed to be presented. The very idea of creating an ‘open hunting season’ on abortion providers has led judges to prevent such arguments in their courts. The legal precedents are in place.

    • Agreed, David B, but the rulings of courts in other jurisdictions does not stand as precedent to be followed by a Kansas court. Persuasive authority, to be sure, but not precedent.

      I know, I know; splitting hairs, right? 🙂

      A more serious response: this is the kind of ruling by the trial court that will generate an attempt at, to say the least, an interlocutory appeal. While the appellate courts should not consider same, imho, such will further generate the kind of publicity Roeder and his supporters are after, and could delay the proceedings, and thus lengthen the opportunity for noise, even longer. That said, this ‘defense’ should not be allowed in this type of case. Period.

  17. I read in this morning’s local paper that both sides intend to treat this as any other murder trial. I know murder trials go to motive, but when you have a confession how does that change ‘things’? In fact, why is a trial needed if he confessed?

    And, I also read that he doesn’t intend to change his “not guilty” plea. Now I understand his reasons are because he thinks the murder was justified and that makes him not guilty. But if he can both plead not guilty and confess to murder then shouldn’t he go straight to where he and society can be kept safe from him? A hospital facility for people who are unable to be rational.

  18. Prediction: The next act in this ballet will be Roeder ‘firing’ his appointed counsel, with either (a) a motion to act as his own attorney, or (b) some ‘public interest’ firm coming forward offering to provide counsel.

    • lilacluvr

      And the circus begins….This is exactly what the Pro-Lifers want. They want the circus, they want the drama, they want the media attention.

      For Roeder to fire his defense attorney and represent himself will go to the actual depths of the Pro-Lifers argument with the government – wouldn’t it? They all think the government is evil for allowing abortion so when Roeder tells them to ‘stuff it’ and he will represent himself, then Roeder and the Pro-Life movement again have another martyr – don’t they?

      I found it interesting in today’s newspaper article when Troy Newman said he wished Roeder would stop referring to his organization (or something like that).

      Hmmmmm… the Pro-Lifers that obviously thought Roder was good enough to stand side by side with him at Tiller’s clinic are now trying to distance themselves from him?

      • lilacluvr

        So, sounds like Mr. Newman wants the media circus but he does not want his own neck on the chopping block – did I get it right?

  19. Roeder will not be able to use the defense he wants to, according the head Public Defender.

    Judge Warren Wilbert will hear the case. I have never heard of him, has anyone else?

  20. 6176746f6c6c65

    I know Judge Wilbert, knew him before he became a judge.

    • wicked

      Which reminds me that I’ve wanted to ask if you know (or knew) Tyler Lockett. I know his younger (half) brother. I’m sure Griffin knows him too, as they were in the same class but a year behind me.

  21. lilacluvr

    Who was the judge during the anti-abortion protests the first time? Is he one of the possible judges to hear the Roeder case. And, if so, would it be a good thing to assign him to the Roeder case – in respect to his past dealings with the Anti-abortion movement. Or would he have to recuse himself?

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      Judge Paul Clark, now retired.

      • That was an incomplete response. Many of the protestors cases were heard in Municipal Court, by the judges there. Judge Patrick Kelly, also now retired, heard at least one related case in Federal Court. Judge Clark was assigned to those cases that were filed in or appealed to the Sedgwick County District Court.

  22. I would think they aren’t lining up for this one. So many potential pitfalls. Although, on the other hand, maybe potential challenges bringing notoriety of the good kind too! You don’t get to grab the brass ring without some risk.

  23. I remember when protestors were trying to find Judge Kelly’s house. He really had fit over that. One of the protestors acosted him at home and there was consideration given to charging that person – I can’t remember with what…