James Kopp, the anti-abortion extremist who in March was convicted of the intentional murder of Barnett Slepian, MD, will face federal charges for the murder as well. Kopp’s attorney had argued that since Kopp had already received 25 years to life he wouldn’t even be eligible for parole until he was 73, so an additional trial would just be a waste of resources, according to the Buffalo News. Kopp also claimed that a second trial would be double jeopardy, but prosecutors argued that the state and federal charges are different, the Associated Press reports.
In federal court, Kopp is charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which protects women’s access to abortion services. The Buffalo News reports that the decision to proceed with federal charges against Kopp came from US Attorney General John Ashcroft or one of his top aides.
In related news, a witness has stepped forward claiming to have seen alleged Kopp accomplice Dennis Malvasi in Slepian’s Amherst, NY, neighborhood a week after Kopp shot Dr. Slepian. Malvasi and his wife, Loretta Marra, accepted a federal plea deal in April that has a maximum sentence of five years, but both had claimed that they did not know Kopp had killed Dr. Slepian and had only sent Kopp money while he was on the run from authorities. Police are investigating the possibility that if Malvasi was in Slepian’s neighborhood so soon after the shooting, he could have been trying to retrieve the murder weapon and other evidence Kopp buried in the woods behind Slepian’s house, according to the Buffalo News. Marra and Malvasi will be sentenced tomorrow in New York City.