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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Roeder admits little sympathy for Tiller family

By Judy L. Thomas
McClatchy Newspapers

As he awaits sentencing for first-degree murder, Scott Roeder said in an interview released Monday that he has little sympathy for abortion provider George Tiller's family.

"The fact that George Tiller was involved in the practice that he was, similar to that of a hit man, if you could have sympathy for a hit man's family, that is the sympathy I would have," Roeder told anti-abortion activist Dave Leach in interviews recorded last week from jail. "If they would have talked the man into stopping his practice many years ago, this would not have had to happen."

Leach posted a recording of the interviews Monday on YouTube.

Roeder, 51, of the Kansas City area, was convicted Jan. 29 of shooting Tiller to death last May. He faces life in prison when sentenced on March 9, and prosecutors said they would ask that he not be eligible for parole for 50 years.

In the 10-minute recording, Roeder talked about his trial, saying it wasn't fair for the judge to keep the abortion issue out of the testimony. He likened it to "having a trial for John Brown but saying it was not over slavery."

"My beliefs were that the lives of unborn children were being taken through abortion," he said. "How you keep that out of a trial is beyond me, because that was the one entire motive for the action that was taken."

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said Roeder's statements could be used against him at his sentencing.

"Typically, in this kind of case, the defendant would want to do everything he or she could do to avoid a stiff sentence," Tobias said. "So what lawyers tend to advise their clients — and clients usually follow their advice — is to say nothing, just because of the concern about prejudicing the sentencing."

However, he added: "There hasn't been very much that's been normal about this case."

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