Will Scott Roeder claim â€˜justifiable homicide’ at his upcoming murder trial?
SCOTT Roeder, the “born-again” Christian zealot who gunned down and killed US abortion provider Dr George Tiller on May 31, is reported to be in talks with a prominent attorney who represents anti-abortion protesters and has long advocated justifiable homicide as a legal defence in such cases.
Scott Roeder, 51, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges arising out of the murder of Tiller in the foyer of a Wichita church.
Roeder has court-appointed defence attorneys, but he apparently has now turned to Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003 after the Florida Supreme Court rejected Hirsh’s argument that the judge should have allowed Hill to present to jurors his claim that the killings were justified to prevent abortions.
Hirsh confirmed he has spoken once to Roeder in recent weeks about representing him, but he has not yet been retained. Hirsh said he had not researched the facts of the case or Kansas law enough to know whether the justifiable homicide defence could be used, but he said a jury should be allowed to decide if it is applicable.
Hirsh discounted the suggestion that if a jury acquitted Roeder of murder based on such a defence, it would lead to an open season on abortion doctors.
Richard Levy, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, said such defences can work, but not necessarily in the context of abortion. The law requires that the threat be imminent, the force reasonable in response and the activity involved unlawful.
Any claim that killing an abortion provider is justifiable would likely fail, he said.
Meanwhile, we learn that a Bible study group that Roeder joined has come under close scrutiny by the authorities – including the FBI.
And members are not happy.
Said Michael Clayman, an attorney who was host for the group:
People are trying to make something out of nothing. It was like any other Bible study around town. It was a bunch of guys having spaghetti and meatballs, talking about philosophy. It wasn’t a bunch of Jim Jones people meeting or drinking Kool-Aid or plotting things. No cult, no nothing.
Clayman said Roeder took the abortion issue to the extreme. He said Roeder talked often about his belief that killing an abortion doctor was an act of justifiable homicide.
Scott believed that the Bible was literal, the word of God. Where he went astray was he had this crazy, fanatic doctrine that you could somehow justify killing somebody just because they were an abortion doctor.
He’s going to be tried, and he’s going to try and do a dog-and-pony show in front of the media. He wants to tell the whole world. He’s a martyr, see? That’s what he wanted to be.
In a recent interview, Roeder said he “had become a believer” around 1992.
I converted, born again to Christianity. I guess you could say Messianic, or turned to Jesus, Yeshua, as my Saviour.