As abortion rights opponents put out press releases about attending the Scott Roeder trial, federal authorities quietly sat in the back of the courtroom, taking notes.
Abortion rights advocates, meanwhile, want the federal government to step up an investigation into whether some anti-abortion factions were conspirators in Tiller’s shooting. Roeder has publicly admitted killing the Wichita abortion provider and claims he did it to protect the unborn.
Judy Thomas of the Kansas City Star has been familiar with many of the people attending Roeder’s trial since she covered the 1991 Summer of Mercy protests at Tiller’s clinic for The Eagle. As she reports today:“Among those attending have been Michael Bray, of Ohio, who spent four years in prison in the 1980s for a series of abortion clinic arsons and bombings; Dave Leach, of Des Moines, who once published the Army of God manual, a how-to book on abortion clinic violence; Jennifer McCoy of Wichita, who spent time in prison for two abortion clinic arsons in Virginia; Regina Dinwiddie of Kansas City, who calls Roeder a hero; and Joshua Graff, who spent three years in prison for a 1993 clinic arson in the Houston area.”Leech rode to Wichita with Donna Holman, of the Preborn Missionaries of Iowa, in a van with pictures of small dead bodies over it and anti-abortion statements. They parked it out on Main Street in front of the courthouse the past two days.
Courthouse security guards said the van had a sign allowing it to park in the disabled zone. Enforcement of parking is in the jurisdiction of Wichita Police.
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, issued a press release saying he was coming to Wichita on Tuesday.
“We’re not here to condone or condemn Scott Roeder’s actions,” said Terry, who is involved in a lawsuit with current Operation Rescue leader Troy Newman over who owns the name. “That decision will soon rest with the jury. However, there are those who want to pretend this trial has nothing to do with child-killing by abortion, that is a farce.”
Federal investigators may be interested in how much support, or contact, Roeder has received from them.
Among those in the courtroom was Kristy Parker, special litigation counsel for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Parker declined to discuss details of her visit. But she’s no stranger to Wichita. Parker helped prosecute the 2005 trial of Arlan and Linda Kaufman — the couple from Newton convicted of abusing the people who lived at their group home for the mentally ill.