The lawyers of Scott Roeder, who allegedly murdered George Tiller, MD, in May, are seeking to relocate the trial so that it will take place outside of Sedgwick County, in Witchita, Kansas. The lawyers argue that due to media coverage of Dr. Tiller's Death and Roeder's subsequent arrest, it is unlikely that Roeder will get a fair trial in Sedgewick County, the Kansas City Star reports. A hearing regarding this request will take place in December, though Court officials state that Sedgwick County rarely grants change of venue requests.
When asked if he killed Tiller, Roeder responded "That is correct," according to the Los Angeles Times. Roeder stated that despite his confession, he will not change his not-guilty plea because he does not consider his act murder. Roeder said he plans to use a so-called necessity defense, arguing that his actions were motivated by "the fact [that] preborn children's lives were in imminent danger," reports the Associated Press. A similar defense used in an abortion clinic trespassing case was rejected by a 1993 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.
Tiller family attorney Lee Thompson told the Kansas City Star that Roeder's defense is very unlikely to hold up in court. "Any pretense that it's justifiable is legally wrong and reflective of the extremism that seems to characterize this act, which is nothing more than an act of premeditated violence," he said.
Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told the Kansas City Star that Roeder's confession "clearly shows his connection to the most extremist branch of the antiabortion movement, which has long advocated this defense, that somehow the murder of doctors is justifiable."
Roeder's trial for first degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault has already been postponed until January 2010. If convicted of all charges, Roeder faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Media Resources: Kansas City Star 11/12/09, 11/10/09; Feminist News Wire 11/10/09, 9/21/09; Los Angeles Times 11/10/09; Associated Press 11/9/09