After James Kopp admitted to the fatal shooting of Dr Barnett Slepian in an interview with the Buffalo News, he and lawyers involved in the case have been ordered by a state court judge to refrain from publicly discussing the case before it goes to trial in Erie County Court in March. In parallel federal proceedings, US District Judge Hugh Scott ruled that Kopp cannot retain Bruce Barket as his lawyer in federal court because Barket is also defending Loretta Marra, an alleged accomplice of Kopp’s, according to the Associated Press. Barket, who shares Kopp’s extreme anti-abortion beliefs, will still represent Kopp in state court.
Dr. Slepian, a Buffalo obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider, was assassinated in 1998 in his Amherst, New York, home. Kopp was an early suspect in the murder and went on the run from authorities until he was apprehended in France in 2001. Despite admitting to the fatal shooting, Kopp will plead “not guilty” because he claims his intention was to wound Dr. Slepian, not kill him. If Kopp is convicted of the murder, he faces 25 years to life in prison. Marra and Dennis Malvasi are on trial in New York for aiding Kopp while he was a fugitive. The two were recently denied bail at a detention hearing in New York City.
Malvasi has already served five years in prison for the bombings of three reproductive health clinics as well as the attempted bombing of a fourth clinic. Marra was twice arrested with Kopp during anti-abortion protests in Vermont and New York in the early 1990s. Kopp, who was at one time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is not only facing charges in the murder of Dr. Slepian, but also has been indicted for the 1995 shooting of Ontario abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and is the primary suspect in three separate shootings of abortion providers in Canada and New York.