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.
Entertaining the argument that this cold-blooded, premeditated murder could be considered 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.