Anti-abortion extremist James Charles Kopp was extradited from France yesterday before appearing in federal court where he pled not guilt to charges that he violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) and illegally used a firearm to commit a crime. Kopp, formerly on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, allegedly murdered Amherst, NY obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. According to law enforcement authorities, Dr. Slepian was killed in his home by a rifle shot. The shooter fired the rifle from a wooded area outside the home, and then fled. Investigators discovered a strand of hair at the scene that was linked to Kopp through DNA testing. Kopp’s vehicle had also been seen in Slepian’s neighborhood in the weeks before the shooting.
Eleven days after this sniper-style murder, Kopp disappeared and remained a fugitive for over two years, moving around Ireland before being captured in Dinan, France. Kopp was arrested at a post office where he was picking up money sent to him by fellow anti-abortion extremists Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra. Both Malvasi and Marra have been charged with harboring a fugitive.
Kopp now faces life without parole on the federal charges against him. Today, he will appear in state court on a second-degree murder charge as well as charges of reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. Kopp – facing 25 years to life on the state charges – is expected to plead innocent. As a condition of his extradition, Kopp is not eligible for the death penalty, which is still legal in New York.
In addition to crimes in the US, Kopp is also wanted in Canada for the 1995 attempted murder of abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and the shootings of two other abortion providers in 1994 and 1997.
Media Resources: Associated Press, 6/6/02; Feminist Majority Foundation