Crime & Courts

Auction planned for Roeder defense fund

An Army of God manual. A prison cookbook compiled by a woman doing time for abortion clinic bombings and arsons. An autographed bullhorn.

These are among the items that abortion foes plan to auction on eBay and other Web sites in a fundraiser for Scott Roeder, the Kansas City man charged with killing Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

"This is unique," said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist who will sign the bullhorn."... The goal is that everybody makes money for Scott Roeder's defense."

The company would not reveal whether eBay would permit the auction to launch.

"EBay does not allow listings that promote or glorify violence, hate, racial or religious intolerance, or items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity," the company said in a statement.

One abortion-rights leader called the auction deplorable and said it could lead to more violence.

"The network of extremists promoting and defending the murder of doctors is contributing to escalating threats against clinics and doctors across the country," said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Roeder, charged with first-degree murder in Tiller's shooting May 31, is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Dave Leach, an Iowa abortion opponent who is organizing the auction effort, said he was aiming for a Nov. 1 launch.

An eBay official said the auction was unusual.

"A lot of times people will raise money for charities and that type of thing," said spokeswoman Alina Piacentino. "But rarely is it a controversial kind."

Among items that will go on the auction block, Dinwiddie said, are three drawings she received in the mail Wednesday from Roeder. Two were done by another inmate at his direction, but Roeder autographed all of them.

Leach said he was continuing to collect items.

His own donation: an Army of God manual, an underground publication for anti-abortion militants that describes dozens of ways to shut down clinics, including bombing.

Another item to be auctioned, Leach said, is a collection of recipes compiled in prison by Shelley Shannon, the Oregon woman who shot and wounded Tiller in 1993 and was later convicted in a series of abortion clinic arsons and bombings.

Leach said Shannon also is donating "her awesome handwritten book of commentary on the news and her part in it over the past few years, including her original cartoons."

Dinwiddie is a friend of Roeder. She also was a friend of Paul Hill, who shot an abortion provider and his escort to death in Pensacola, Fla., in 1994. Hill received a death sentence for the killings and was executed in 2003.

"Regina is digging out her old VHS tapes of Paul Hill in her home praying before Shelley's trial," Leach said.

The bullhorn autographed by Dinwiddie is similar to those she used when protesting outside abortion clinics.

"My original ones have all been confiscated by police," she said.

Michael Bray, an Ohio activist who spent four years in prison for the firebombings of abortion-related facilities on the East Coast in the 1980s, is donating an autographed copy of his book, "A Time to Kill."

Leach said the auction was intended to raise money for the defense of Roeder, who was being represented by public defenders.

Leach and others would like to help Roeder hire a lawyer to present what is known as a necessity defense. That strategy would argue that Tiller was killed to prevent a greater harm — killing babies. Other anti-abortion activists charged with violent crimes have tried to use such a defense but with little success.

"If we are not successful in finding a lawyer we can afford, we will distribute the money to prisoners who have sacrificed their years for the cause of saving lives," Leach said.

Roeder said in a phone interview last week that he was excited about the auction.

"I think it's great," he said. "I appreciate all of the efforts going into that. I'm all for anything that might bring some donations in."

But he declined to comment about whether he would use such a defense.

Abortion-rights advocates said the auction was appalling.

"The idea of an eBay auction featuring a video of Paul Hill, who murdered a doctor and volunteer clinic escort; the work of Shelley Shannon, who attempted to murder Dr. Tiller; and the writings of Michael Bray and Dave Leach, individuals who promote the killing of doctors, is reprehensible," Spillar said.

In another effort to support Roeder, Leach has produced a series of videos that he released this week on several Web sites, including YouTube. In the videos, Leach suggests that Roeder may not get a real trial by jury because the judge probably would refuse to allow jurors to hear why Roeder "had to do what he did."

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