Crime & Courts

Fall resentencing date set for killer of Wichita physician George Tiller

Scott Roeder, left, in court on July 7.
Scott Roeder, left, in court on July 7. The Wichita Eagle

Scott Roeder – the man who shot and killed Wichita physician George Tiller, who was nationally known for performing late-term abortions – will be resentenced in his first-degree murder case this fall.

Prosecutors are seeking a second Hard 50 prison term for Roeder after his first, imposed in 2010, was thrown out by the Kansas Supreme Court on appeal.

The resentencing is set to begin Nov. 28, according to Sedgwick County District Court records. Judge Warren Wilbert, who presided over Roeder’s 2010 trial and imposed his original Hard 50 sentence, will oversee the proceeding.

It’s expected to last a few weeks, said Dan Dillon, spokesman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

Dillon said the court will spend the weeks before the hearing sending out questionnaires to potential jurors who will decide whether Roeder, 58, receives life without parole for 25 or 50 years for his first-degree premeditated murder conviction.

See photos from Scott Roeder’s 2010 trial

Prosecutors contend Roeder deserves the latter sentence because, they’ve said, he posed a great risk of death to multiple people and killed Tiller in an especially heinous, atrocious or cruel way. His defense attorneys will argue a life sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years is sufficient.

Roeder, who is currently incarcerated at Ellsworth Correctional Facility, gunned down Tiller during Sunday services at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita on May 31, 2009, in what he says was a move to protect unborn children after other efforts to stop abortion failed.

Tiller performed abortions at his east Wichita clinic at 5107 E. Kellogg, which is now home to Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center.

Roeder was convicted in 2010 of the doctor’s murder and of two counts of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at two other men at the church the day of the shooting. The state’s high court upheld Roeder’s convictions but vacated his Hard 50 sentence in 2014 in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said juries, not judges, must be the ones to determine whether defendant receives a harsher than usual punishment for a crime.

He is due in court again next week in preparation for the November proceeding. Prosecutors at that hearing are expected to ask the judge to limit the types of evidence Roeder can use to ask jurors for leniency.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker