The man accused of killing late-term abortionist George Tiller won’t be allowed to use the “necessity defense” when he goes on trial next month, a district judge in Wichita, Kan., ruled this week.
While Judge Warren Wilbert said he would “leave the door open” for Scott Roeder to present evidence and arguments showing that his slaying of Tiller was done out of belief that he was saving the lives of fetuses, he will not allow Roeder to claim that he broke the law to prevent a greater harm.
The necessity defense is not recognized under Kansas law, the judge said Tuesday.
Roeder, a 51-year-old Kansas City native, is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Tiller, who had been strongly criticized by the pro-life community up until the May 31 shooting at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where Tiller worshipped.
As one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country, Tiller was regarded as among the most notorious figures in the pro-abortion movement and, at the time of his death, was under investigation by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for 11 petition allegations against him.
Despite their strong opposition to Tiller’s late-term abortion practices, many Christian pro-life groups strongly denounced his murder.
Pro-lifers were also quick to adamantly reject any connections between the pro-life movement and Roeder, who has been described as being anti-abortion, anti-government, and “very religious” but in an Old Testament “eye-for-an-eye way.”
Despite the criticism, Roeder has made clear in interviews following the shooting that he has no regrets and that he feels justified in shooting the prominent abortionist.
"Defending innocent life – that is what prompted me. It is pretty simple," Roeder told The Associated Press in 30-minute phone interview last month.
And having heard that at least four women who had sought abortions changed their minds and chose to have their babies, Roeder made it clear that he would do it again.
"[E]ven if one changed her mind it would be worth it,” he told AP from jail. “No, I don't have any regrets."
In addition to Tiller’s murder, Roeder has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 incident at Reformation Lutheran Church.
Beginning Jan. 11, some 300 potential jurors will be summoned to the courthouse. From that, 42 will move on to receive approval from lawyers. In the end, 14 jurors will be picked – 12 who will decide the case and two alternates.