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Shannon condones Tiller killing

  • Associated Press
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, at 12:06 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at 1:55 p.m.

The woman who shot and wounded abortion provider George Tiller in 1993 said Sunday that he "needed to be killed for the sake of justice."

Scott Roeder, who has publicly admitted killing Tiller, reportedly visited Shelley Shannon when she was jailed in Topeka for shooting Tiller.

Shannon, who is serving time in Minnesota for a series of abortion clinic arsons, sent the message about Tiller through the prison e-mail system's Web page to anti-abortion activist Dave Leach in Iowa. The e-mail, obtained by the Associated Press, claimed Tiller killed "preborn babies" throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy and broke Kansas laws but always got away with it without going to jail.

"Whatever happens in the Kansas courtroom, justice was done on May 31, AD 2009," she wrote. Tiller was shot to death in his church on May 31.

Tiller, 67, had been the target of protests for most of the 36 years that he performed abortions at his Wichita clinic, one of the few places in the nation where women could get late-term abortions. Shannon shot him in both arms, and his clinic was bombed in 1986.

Anti-abortion groups such as Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue have denounced the violence and for the most part are keeping their distance from Roeder's trial. The more radical activists who plan to attend say they plan to quietly observe.

Jennifer McCoy, an abortion opponent who served 30 months in prison for conspiracy to commit arson at a clinic, has attended most of Roeder's pretrial hearings and plans to come to his trial. The 37-year-old Wichita woman had protested in front of Tiller's clinic for 20 years.

McCoy, who visited Roeder in jail, said she wonders what the court is hiding since the public is not allowed to watch portions of jury selection.

"It makes you wonder where the jurors may have stood on a key part of the prosecution and the defense," she said, referring to jurors' beliefs about abortion. "If you don't know that, how can you say whether (the trial) was fair or not?"

Leach told the media in an e-mail Sunday that he knows of 10 to 20 of Roeder's supporters who plan to attend the trial.

The Rev. Don Spitz of Chesapeake, Va., who runs a Web site supporting violence against abortion providers, has said he and several other activists plan to travel to Wichita for the trial but plan no protests.

Spitz was the spiritual adviser to Paul Hill while he was jailed for the murder of a Florida abortion provider and his escort and was with Hill at his 2003 execution. Roeder talks to Spitz by phone weekly.

The Feminist Majority Foundation, a group that supports abortion rights, has also said it plans to send observers to Roeder's trial.

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