On January 29th, 2010, a jury found Scott Roeder guilty of 1st degree premeditated murder in the shooting of Kansas Dr. George Tiller, as well as two counts of aggravated assault.
The jury, who had listened to 5 days of testimony, took less than an hour of deliberation once closing remarks were made.
Yesterday, the jury was informed that they would not be ruling on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, a fear many pro-choice advocates expressed, as the sentencing could be as little as 5 years. Because of Roeder’s premeditated action and the fact that there was no immediate threat against him, Judge Warren Wilbert instead ruled that Roeder must be found either guilty or innocent on the charge of first degree murder in the death of Dr. George Tiller. Additionally, he was charged with two counts of aggravated assault for pulling a gun on two others during his crime.
Although the jury returned quickly with a verdict, there was little surprise in the fast turn around. In Roeder’s own testimony yesterday he repeated the fact that he did commit the murder of Dr. Tiller, as well as recite the steps that he took prior to the act, with plans that went all of the way back to 1993. He also stated that he did not regret his actions.
The prosecuting team has announced its intention to go for a "hard 50" during the sentencing process. "Hard 50," a sentencing technique used frequently in Kansas murder trials, required that the convicted murderer be required to serve a minimum of 50 years in prison before even a possibility of parole.
Sentencing will be scheduled for March 9th, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.
We will continue to update this post with statements as they come in.
Statement from Dr. Tiller’s family:
"The family of Dr. George Tiller would like to thank the jury,
District Attorney Nola Foulston and her office and law enforcement for
their service in this difficult matter. Once again, a Sedgwick County
jury has reached a just verdict. We also want to thank George’s
countless friends and supporters in Wichita and around the country who
have offered their comfort.
"At this time we hope that
George can be remembered for his legacy of service to women, the help
he provided for those who needed it and the love and happiness he
provided us as a husband, father and grandfather."
"The jury examined the facts of this case and rightfully convicted
Scott Roeder for the brutal murder of Dr. George Tiller inside his
church in Kansas. Our thoughts are with Dr. Tiller’s family and
friends. Even though this conviction brings a murderer to justice, it
won’t replace the husband, father, and grandfather they lost last May.
Dr. Tiller was a tireless advocate for reproductive health who called
on us to ‘trust women’ to make the personal, private decisions that are
best for them and their families. We will continue to honor his legacy
of compassion and resolve.
"We also call on opponents of a woman’s right to choose to end the
practice of inflammatory rhetoric and tactics that inspire this kind of
violent action from the most extreme factions of the anti-choice
movement. No other abortion provider’s family should have to endure the
tragedy of seeing their loved one killed for providing an essential and
legal health service to women."
justice was served for Dr. Tiller, his family and abortion providers
who live in fear of physical attacks, harassment and intimidation every
day. The jury swiftly and unanimously convicted Mr. Roeder, rejecting
his defense for cold-blooded murder. Dr. Tiller’s shooting was a
calculated crime by Mr. Roeder’s own admission, and that is the
definition of premeditated murder.
As our investigative research last summer found, anti-choice forces have targeted abortion providers
for decades – with appalling physical attacks, threats and intimidation
– far too often with impunity. Yet abortion is a legal medical service,
a fundamental part of healthcare for women and a core constitutional
right. It was critical that this trial show that the lives of doctors
who perform necessary, legal services will be protected by the full
force of the law.