Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

March-12-03

Kopp Waives Right to Jury Trial

James Kopp, the anti-abortion extremist who confessed to the sniper-style killing of abortion provider Barnett Slepian, MD, waived his right to a jury trial yesterday, against the advice of the judge and two of his three lawyers, according to the Buffalo News. Now, instead of a trial that would include 60 witnesses and last for a month, the trial is expected to begin and end on Monday. Judge Michael D’Amico of Erie County Court will decide Kopp’s guilt or innocence based on a single document of facts in the case, approved by both the prosecution and by Kopp’s lawyer, Bruce Barket, the New York Times reports. Barket told the News that Kopp still intends to plead not guilty because Kopp does not believe he did anything criminal. The agreement reached between the defense and prosecution includes a stipulation that the judge cannot consider lesser charges, such as manslaughter; Kopp will either be found guilty or not guilty of murder in the second degree, according to the Associated Press.

Kopp had intended the trial to be a “forum on abortion,” with Barket planning to argue that Kopp had committed “justifiable homicide,” according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. However, the News reports that Kopp was worried that the “pro-life message” would be overshadowed by the gruesome details of the events leading up to the murder and the murder itself. Glenn Murray, an attorney very close to the Slepian family and Dr. Slepian’s former clinic, told the News that giving up a traditional murder defense “serves [Kopp’s] agenda. This way, he totally avoids any testimony about Kopp the murderer, and can move toward sentencing and portray himself as Kopp the martyr. He’ll never be cross-examined about his deliberate stalking and hideous murder. This is better for Kopp than a jury trial or guilty plea.”

District Attorney Frank Clark, who was prosecuting the case, told the News that Dr. Slepian’s widow, Lynne, had a “mixed reaction” to the news. “On the one hand, she was obviously relieved she wasn’t going to have to put herself and her family through the pain of living that night. On the other hand, I think she was honestly disappointed that she wasn’t able to take the stand and confront the defendant about what he did to her and her family,” he said.

Kopp is facing charges of second-degree murder and “depraved indifference to human life,” each of which carry maximum sentences of 25 years to life. Kopp has also been charged in federal court for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). Two of Kopp’s alleged accomplices while he was on the run from authorities, Loretta Marra and Bruce Malvasi, are planning to plead guilty in a Brooklyn federal court.

Kopp killed Dr. Slepian in 1998 in Slepian’s Amherst, New York, home. DNA evidence has been found to link Kopp to the attempted murder of Canadian doctor Dr. Hugh Short, who was shot in his home in 1995. Kopp also is the prime suspect in the sniper-style shootings of three other abortion providers – the 1994 shooting of Dr. Garson Romalis in his Vancouver home; the October 1997 shooting of a Perinton, NY doctor, whose name has been withheld by police; and the November 1997 shooting of Dr. Jack Fainman in his Winnipeg, NY home.

Media Resources: Buffalo News 3/12/03; New York Post 3/8/03; Reuters 3/11/03; Kaiser 3/4/03; Associated Press 3/11/03; New York Times 3/12/03


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

5/20/2015 New York Attorney General Moves to Expand Access to Contraceptives - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman introduced the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act of 2015 last week to enhance the availability of contraception for New Yorkers. The bill codifies the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New York state law while strengthening and expanding many of its provisions. . . .
 
5/20/2015 SLUT: The Play Performance Was a Call to Action for Consent Education - Last night, SLUT: The Play, a powerful play about the realities of sexual assault in high schools, was performed for thousands at the Warner Theatre in Washington DC. In attendance was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, many advocates working to end sexual violence, and hundreds of local high school and college students. . . .
 
5/19/2015 Feminist Majority Foundation Honors Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan at Star-Studded Global Women's Rights Awards - The Feminist Majority Foundation honored award-winning television producers Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan at the 10th annual Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women's Rights Awards in West Hollywood, California. Yesterday's Global Women's Rights awards, hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) and co-hosted by Mavis and Jay Leno, recognized Rhimes and Kohan as two of the most influential showrunners in television today. . . .