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George Tiller slain; Scott Roeder on trial

Coverage of the trial of Scott Roeder in the killing of Kansas late-term abortion doctor George Tiller.

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Police plan security briefing on Tiller funeral

March 1 at 1:23 p.m.

— Wichita police will hold a briefing this afternoon on security measures planned for the funeral Saturday of slain abortion doctor George Tiller at College Hill United Methodist Church.


The trial: Scott Roeder, 51, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

The crime: George Tiller, 67, was one of four doctors in the country who provided late-term abortion services to women whose pregnancies threatened their health. He was shot and killed on May 31 as he worked as an usher in the lobby of his church, Reformation Lutheran, in Wichita. Gary Hoepner and Keith Martin said a man they were chasing through their church parking lot pointed a gun at them as he fled.

Background: Tiller operated Women's Health Care Services, 5107 E. Kellogg. He and his clinic had been a target of anti-abortion rights for decades. A pipe bomb was set off at the clinic in 1986. The clinic drew thousands to the “Summer of Mercy” protests in 1991 that lasted for 46 days. The next year, Tiller was shot in both arms. Tiller fought criminal charges by three Kansas attorneys general, including Phill Kline, before a jury acquitted the doctor of misdemeanor charges two months before his death.

Prosecutors: Nola Foulston has been Sedgwick County District Attorney since 1989. Chief Deputy District Attorney Kim Parker and Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle. Swegle has worked as a Sedgwick County prosecutor since 1981, Parker since 1997.

For the defense: Steve Osburn has been chief public defender of Sedgwick County since 1998. Mark Rudy joined the public defender’s office last year, after working as a prosecutor in McPherson County and a private defense attorney in Cleveland, Ohio.

The judge: Warren Wilbert has served on the Sedgwick County district bench since 1995.

The verdict: After 37 minutes of deliberation, the jury convicted Scott Roeder of first-degree murder in the death of George Tiller and two counts of aggravated assault. Sentencing is set for March 9.


June 9, 1986: A pipe bomb explodes at George Tiller's clinic, Women's Health Care Services, blowing a hole in the outside wall and severely damaging the interior. The bomb detonates overnight and no one is injured. No arrests have been made in the case.

Summer 1991: Thousands of demonstrators from around the country descend on Wichita to protest at the city's abortion clinics during what organizers dub the "Summer of Mercy." The protesters blockade the entrance to Tiller's clinic, leading to more than 2,500 arrests over the course of the 46-day protest.

Aug. 19, 1993: Tiller is shot in both arms while driving out of his clinic's parking lot. Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon is convicted of the shooting and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 1994. Shannon is sentenced to an additional 20 years for her involvement in arson attacks against clinics in California, Nevada and Oregon.

April 1996: Scott Roeder, then 38, is arrested in Topeka after Shawnee County sheriff's deputies stop him for not having a proper license plate. In his car, officers said they found ammunition and bomb-making supplies. Roeder is arraigned on one count of criminal use of explosives and misdemeanor charges of driving on a suspended license, failure to carry a Kansas registration and failure to carry liability insurance.

June 1996: Roeder is found guilty and sentenced to 24 months of probation with intensive supervision and ordered to dissociate himself from anti-government groups that advocate violence.

December 1997: Roeder's probation ends six months early when the Kansas Court of Appeals overturns his conviction. The court holds that evidence against Roeder was seized by authorities during an illegal search of his car.

Oct. 31, 1998: Tiller's clinic receives a letter threatening to contaminate workers with the deadly biological agent anthrax. Letters are received at five other clinics, but the FBI determines all the letters to be hoaxes.

Summer 2001: Ten years after the "Summer of Mercy," demonstrators return to Wichita to continue protests at Tiller's clinics. Called the "Summer of Mercy Renewal," the protests last a week and result in two arrests.

April 2003: Shortly after being sworn in as Kansas attorney general, Phill Kline begins his investigation into Tiller's clinic.

June 18, 2003: Kline issues a legal opinion that requires abortion clinics and health care workers to report any sexual activity by teenage patients. Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston supports Kline's actions.

Oct. 3, 2003: A coalition of Kansas health care workers sues Kline and Foulston, claiming an invasion of privacy.

July 26, 2004: U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten issued a preliminary injunction, preventing Kline from enforcing required reporting of teenage sexual activity.

Sept. 21, 2004: Kline's office subpoenas 90 patient files from Tiller's clinic.

Oct. 26, 2004: Tiller's lawyers ask for the Kansas Supreme Court to intervene in the order for patient files.

Early 2005: Kline's offices subpoenas records from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the guest registers of the La Quinta motel, near Tiller's clinic.

December 2005: The Kansas Board of Healing Arts clears Tiller of any wrongdoing relating to the death of a 19-year-old Texas woman in January 2005, after she received an abortion at his clinic. An autopsy found that Christin Gilbert died of complications from the abortion.

Feb. 3, 2006: The Kansas Supreme Court rules Kline can receive 60 records from Tiller's clinic under strict limitations, including the removal of information identifying the patients.

April 18, 2006: Judge Marten issues final restraining order against Kline and Foulston in teen sex case.

Aug. 1, 2006: A Sedgwick County grand jury finds no criminal conduct stemming from Christin Gilbert's death. The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and others had gathered more than 7,700 signatures petitioning for a grand jury investigation, but the grand jury is dismissed without returning an indictment.

Dec. 8 and 20, 2006: Physician Kristen Neuhaus is questioned by an assistant to Kline in a secret hearing over how she gave second opinions for Tiller's patients, the second opinions are required in abortions where the fetus has been determined to be viable outside the womb.

Dec. 11, 2006: A Republican precinct committee in Johnson County selects Phill Kline to replace Paul Morrison as district attorney. Morrison defeated Kline in the election for state attorney general.

Dec. 21, 2006: Kline files criminal charges against Tiller, charging him with performing illegal late-term abortions.

Dec. 22, 2006: Charges against Tiller are dismissed after Sedgwick County District Judge Paul Clark rules that Kline cannot bring a case here without the consent of Foulston, the local district attorney.

June 28, 2007: Morrison files 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller, accusing the doctor of having an improper financial relationship with Neuhaus. Tiller denies any wrongdoing.

Dec. 14, 2007: Morrison resigns.

Jan. 8, 2008: A grand jury convenes in Sedgwick County, the result of petitions compiled by anti-abortion groups, to investigate Tiller.

Jan. 18, 2008: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appoints Steve Six as attorney general. Six later decides he will pursue the 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller.

July 2, 2008: After a months-long battle to get patient records from Tiller's clinic, a grand jury adjourns without filing criminal charges.

March 27, 2009: Tiller is acquitted of charges on the 19 misdemeanor charges.

May 30, 2009: The office manager of a Kansas City, Kan., women's clinic sees a man matching Roeder's description, and driving a car similar to Roeder's, trying to vandalize the clinic that day.

May 31, 2009: Tiller is shot and killed in the foyer of his church, Reformation Lutheran, in Wichita while serving as an usher. A car with a license plate matching that seen leaving the church is stopped later that day near Kansas City and the driver arrested.

June 1, 2009: Roeder is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

July 28, 2009: Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert finds probable cause to send Roeder to trial following a preliminary hearing.

Nov 9, 2009: Roeder admits to news reporters that he killed Tiller, saying "pre-born children were in imminent danger."

Dec. 22, 2009: Judge Wilbert rules Roeder cannot use the so-called "necessity defense" at trial because Tiller provided "no imminent threat" when he was shot inside his church.

Jan. 6, 2009: Potential jurors begin arriving at the Sedgwick County courthouse, under summonses, to fill out pretrial questionnaires.

Jan. 8, 2009: At a pretrial hearing, Wilbert says said he could consider giving the jury an option of choosing a less severe charge than murder.

Jan. 11, 2009: Roeder's trial scheduled to begin.


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Recommend links to news coverage of Scott Roeder and George Tiller by e-mailing online@wichitaeagle.com.


Video of Scott Roeder's arrest: Patrol car video of Scott Roeder's arrest on Interstate 35 in Johnson County, Kansas on May 31, 2009. Roeder is on trial for shooting and killing Dr. George Tiller in Wichita earlier that morning.

Video shows Scott Roeder shopping for gun: Matt Smith of Jayhawk Pawn and Jewelry testifies about Scott Roeder visiting the Lawrence business and shopping for a handgun. Roeder eventually purchased a .22 handgun at the store that was allegedly used to kill Dr. George Tiller.

On the stand, Roeder admits to killing Tiller: Testifying in his own defense, Scott Roeder admits under direct examination that he shot and killed Dr. George Tiller inside Tiller's church on May 31, 2009.

Roeder guilty of killing Dr. George Tiller: Scott Roeder was found guilty on Friday of murdering abortion provider George Tiller. Roeder was also convicted on two counts of aggravated assault.

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