A Buffalo judge once again rejected a plea deal for two anti-abortion extremists accused of helping James Kopp flee a murder charge for the sniper-style killing of Dr Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider.
Assistant US Attorney Kathleen Mehitretter told US District Court Judge Richard Arcara that the upcoming trial for Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra, now scheduled to begin Sept. 24, could harm her case against Kopp. Mehitretter said that she believes that the identities of witnesses who could testify against Kopp will be revealed at the couple’s trial and that they may be “intimidated merely by the premature revelation of their names,” according to the Buffalo News. Arcara refused to reconsider stating: “I do not think it was in the public interest. Nothing has changed.”
Marra and Malvasi, a Brooklyn couple with a history of anti-abortion extremism, are accused of helping Kopp with money, shelter, and support while he eluded law enforcement for over two years. The two were arrested in New York shortly after Kopp was detained in Dinan, France, in March 2001 and charged with four felony counts each that carried a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Last month, Arcara rejected a deal that would have given the couple a sentence of 27 to 33 months and exemption from testifying against Kopp in exchange for a guilty plea on a single count of harboring a fugitive. He asked why the couple should not be considered accessories after the fact in Slepian’s 1998 killing, referring to e-mails from Kopp to Marra and Malvasi that said he was tired of “living in limbo” and wondering whether he should return “to the field.” Kopp, who was at one time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is not only facing charges in the murder of Dr. Slepian, but also has been indicted for the 1995 shooting of Ontario abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and is the primary suspect in three separate shootings of abortion providers in Canada and New York.