WICHITA | The man charged in the slaying of Kansas late-term abortion provider George Tiller says he's "being treated as a criminal" even though he hasn't been convicted.
Scott Roeder called The Associated Press on Thursday from the Sedgwick County Jail and disputed what he called “broad brush” characterizations of him as being anti-government.
“I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government, it is anti-corrupt government,” Roeder said.When asked by the AP to discuss the Tiller shooting, the 51-year-old Merriam man refused to comment, saying he would talk about that later.
Roeder is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Tiller with a single gunshot as the doctor handed out programs Sunday while ushering at the Lutheran church he attended. Roeder also is accused of assaulting two witnesses before leaving the church and driving away.
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Roeder was arrested a few hours later, near Gardner, about 170 miles northeast of Wichita.
“I haven't been convicted of anything and I am being treated as a criminal,” he said in a telephone conversation that lasted about three minutes.
Roeder said he has made it through the first several days of his incarceration but is concerned about the media attention his family, particularly his elderly mother, has been getting.
“I appreciate your prayers,” he said.
Dan Monnat, the attorney for the Tiller family, declined comment on Roeder's statements.
Also Thursday, District Judge Warren Wilbert bond for Roeder at $5 million.
A day earlier, public defender Steve Osburn had filed a motion asking the court to set bond for Roeder, saying bond should be granted for defendants charged with non-capital crimes.
Kansas law requires that special circumstances exist for a defendant to be eligible for the death penalty. Such circumstances include the killing of a law officer, more than one person or a victim kidnapped for ransom or rape, or killed in murder for hire. Prosecutors said the Tiller murder case doesn't qualify.
If convicted on the murder charge, Roeder would face a mandatory life sentence and would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 16, although it will likely be continued.
Tiller and his Wichita clinic have been a regular target of anti-abortion protests, including the 45-day “Summer of Mercy” event staged by Operation Rescue in 1991. His clinic was damaged by a pipe bomb in 1986, and a protester shot at him in 1993, wounding his arms.
Hundreds of people are expected at Tiller's funeral Saturday.