In an article released today, anti-abortion extremist James Charles Kopp admitted in a November 12 interview that he killed obstetrician/gynecologist Barnett Slepian in his Amherst, New York, home in 1998. Alongside his lawyer, Bruce Barket, Kopp completed a four-hour interview with two reporters from The Buffalo News in which he described the year he spent planning to “wound” the abortion provider at home as well as the shooting itself. Kopp expressed no regret for the shooting of Dr. Slepian, though he claimed he only meant to wound the doctor to prevent him from performing any abortions, according to the News. He told the News that he was making a confession because he wanted his supporters to know that he was not framed for the murder, a claim made by many anti-abortion groups, most prominently by Life Dynamics.
“James Kopp’s confession to the assassination of Dr. Barnett Slepian is an enormous relief to the pro-choice community but it is only a first step,” stated Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. “The evidence against him was overwhelming, and law enforcement, both local and federal, as well as the Buffalo News, have performed admirably in this case. What is necessary now is that law enforcement track down those who aided and abetted Kopp during his reign of terror and during the two-and-a-half years he spent as a fugitive”
Two of those who allegedly assisted Kopp while he was a fugitive, Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi, were arrested by federal authorities shortly after Kopp’s capture. Federal prosecutors, however, have reduced the charges against Marra and Malvasi in an effort to avoid trying the pair prior to Kopp’s trial. According to the prosecutors, trying Marra and Malvasi could imperil the Kopp prosecution. “With Kopp’s confession,” Smeal stated, “Marra and Malvasi certainly should not now receive a plea deal from the federal authorities and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to help shut down this terrorist network.”
Kopp is scheduled to go on trial for the murder next year in Erie County Court in Buffalo, New York. In the interview, Kopp expressed hope that a jury would acquit him because of his intention only to wound Dr. Slepian in an effort to “save children.” Kopp is also suspected to be the “Remembrance Day sniper” who shot and wounded four abortion providers in the Canada/upstate New York area within four years of Slepian’s murder. All of the shootings, including the fatal shooting of Slepian, occurred around Canada’s Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the United States).
When Kopp was asked if he would shoot other doctors if he were acquitted and released, he told the News, “I would do something.” He would not explain what he meant by that. However, he did warn that other abortion providers are in danger from extremists in the anti-abortion movement who might follow his lead. He told the News, “I’m not the first, and I probably won’t be the last.” A statement by anti-abortion extremist Michael Bray, a convicted clinic bomber who advocates the use of violence against abortion providers, that appeared on the “Army of God” website dated Nov. 13 read, “[O]f course Atomic Dog (Kopp’s Army of God moniker) shot Abortionist Barnett Slepian. It was a good deed that brought peace for many innocents through the death of a wicked serial killer.” Bray also alluded to a network of anti-abortion supporters who aided Kopp while he was on the run from authorities.