Statement of Katherine Spillar, Executive Vice President of Feminist Majority Foundation on Kansas Judge’s decision to allow evidence in support of a “voluntary manslaughter” verdict in the trial of Scott Roeder for murdering Dr. George Tiller

Today’s perplexing decision is effectively back-door permission for admitted killer Scott Roeder to use a ‘justifiable homicide’ defense that is both un-justifiable and unconscionable.

Allowing an argument that this cold-blooded, premeditated murder could be voluntary manslaughter will embolden anti-abortion extremists and could result in ‘open season’ on doctors across the country.”

Kansas Judge Warren Wilbert ruled today that he will allow defense attorneys to present evidence to the jury about Scott Roeder’s beliefs prior to his shooting of Dr. George Tiller in church, which would allow a verdict of ‘voluntary manslaughter,’ defined as an ‘unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.’

At the same time Judge Wilbert denied Roeder the right to use a ‘justifiable homicide’ or ‘necessity’ defense. Rejecting ‘justifiable homicide’ while allowing ‘voluntary manslaughter’ is almost a distinction without a difference, since a verdict of voluntary manslaughter could carry as little as five years of jail time, and even that sentence could be reduced. It is an outrage.

In fact, Judge Wilbert had already rejected Roeder’s lawyers’ request to use the ‘justifiable homicide’ defense, citing a 1993 Kansas Supreme Court case predicting that such a defense would ‘not only lead to chaos but would be tantamount to sanctioning anarchy.’

Katherine Spillar is the Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and leads its National Clinic Access Project, which is the oldest and largest national clinic defense project in the nation.

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2 Comments»

  RoederWatch wrote @

Actually, the Judge ruled that he could see it is possible that under Kansas law he would have to give an instruction on voluntary manslaughter. There will have to be evidence to support it and he said he would hear how each witness relates to that defense before he allows them to testify so that this does not become a trial about abortion but sticks to the murder that was committed.

I understand the outrage but lets at least get the ruling right.

  Carolyn Marie Fugit wrote @

It is not Wilbert’s fault the law is written as it is. He said the defense would have a very difficult time proving their case, but if he had ruled any other way, he runs the huge risk of a mistrial which will make this all happen again. That Roeder admitted to the crimes with which he is charged in court documents works in our favor and against him. The State will undoubtably bring this up. It is unfair to attack Judge Wilbert in this way as he has Kansas law on his side.


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