Tiller Killer May Claim Justifiable Homicide
Scott Roeder has pleaded “not guilty” in the killing of abortion provider George Tiller, and has told the AP that the killing was justified to “save the lives of the unborn.” Now, Roeder is looking to bring on attorney Michael Hirsch, who defended Paul Hill in his appeal on killing an abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003 after the court rejected his efforts to claim to a jury that his actions were justified to prevent abortions.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled in denying Hill’s appeal that his motivation would not change the outcome of the case. “As a practical matter, permitting a defendant to vindicate his or her criminal activity in this manner would be an invitation for lawlessness,” the justices wrote.
But Hirsh discounted the suggestion that if a jury acquitted Roeder of murder based on such a defense, it would lead to an open season on abortion doctors.
“It has been open season on unborn children for over 30 years. I think on abortionists there will be a bag limit,” Hirsh said in a phone interview this week from his Kennesaw, Ga., office.
The trial begins September 21, and public defender Mark Rudy says he expects to file for a continuance.
Richard Levy, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, said such defenses can work, but not necessarily in the context of abortion. The law requires that the threat be imminent, the force reasonable in response and the activity involved unlawful.
But Roeder has his defenders.
Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist in Des Moines, Iowa, who in 1996 reprinted the Army of God manual that lists ways to damage abortion clinics, recently wrote a legal brief for Roeder’s case on the “necessity defense.” He argued that had the alleged shooter not acted, the killing of hundreds of babies every week would have continued. He sent it to Roeder’s public defenders, but they have not responded.Click here for reuse options!
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