Anti-abortion extremist James Kopp, who is charged in the sniper-style killing of a Buffalo obstetrician/gynecologist, has been given the go-ahead to replace his defense attorney with an ardently anti-abortion attorney in an effort to turn his upcoming trial into a forum for his extremist views.
Kopp will now be represented by Bruce Barket, who is also representing Loretta Marra in her trial on charges that she and her husband Dennis Malvasi aided and abetted Kopp while he was on the run from authorities for two years. Marra agreed to the change despite the fact that it could hamper her defense, according to the Associated Press. However, US Magistrate Hugh Scott, who will preside over Marra and Malvasi’s trial, has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 12 to make a final decision on the matter.
Kopp’s previous attorney, Paul Cambria Jr., refused to reveal his own views on abortion and repeatedly stated that he would not turn the trial into a debate on abortion rights, according to the Buffalo News. Barket, on the other hand, sees abortion as a “key issue” in the trial. “Saying this case is not about abortion is like ignoring a large pink elephant in the room,” Barket told the News. “Abortion is about the taking of innocent life. What happened to Dr. (Barnett) Slepian and his family was tragic to say the least.”
Kopp is charged in the 1998 killing of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was an abortion provider in Buffalo, in the kitchen of Slepian’s Buffalo home. Kopp also has been charged with a shooting that wounded an abortion provider in Canada and is considered the prime suspect in three other shootings of abortion providers.