Preliminary hearings for Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, MD, are set to begin Tuesday. Roeder has been charged with first degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. If convicted, he faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years, reports the Associated Press.
Roeder has given multiple interviews on the shooting and the possible defenses he may attempt. In interviews with the Kansas City Star, Roeder claimed that Kansas laws state that a homicide is justifiable if committed “in the defense of self and others.” He said his lawyers have advised against such a defense, because the victim in a justifiable homicide must be engaged in illegal activity.
Retired Shawnee County, Kansas, District Judge Terry Bullock told the AP, “Justifiable homicide typically means self-defense – you are defending yourself, your home, your wife or somebody like that,” Bullock said. “It is not that you have a good motive.” Roeder’s brother David has said that Roeder has suffered from mental illness, and Roeder himself has acknowledged that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, raising the possibility of a diminished mental capacity defense.
The Department of Justice opened the investigation to look into possible federal crimes associated with the murder of Dr. Tiller in June. The federal government also convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers in the days following the murder and Attorney General Eric Holder deployed US Marshals to protect highly threatened clinics and staff.