Special Reports

Details of suspect's '96 charge emerge

New details emerged Monday about a 1996 case in which Scott Roeder was charged with and convicted of criminal use of explosives -- a conviction later overturned on a technicality.

Roeder was arrested Sunday by Johnson County authorities in connection with the slaying of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller. Roeder has been booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and is expected to be formally charged today.

The 1996 case against Roeder was filed during a period of "heightened awareness of possible militia activity" -- two days before the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

According to an unpublished opinion obtained from the Kansas Court of Appeals on Monday, police arrested Roeder after pulling over his car, which bore a license plate reading: "Sovereign, Private Property, Immunity Declared at Law, Non-commercial, American."

The arresting officer was "aware the license plate indicated ownership by a member of the 'Freemen,' an anti-government group," the court record said.

Roeder had no license, registration or proof of insurance, but produced instead a "West Indies driver qualification card," records said.

After finding a knife, several boxes of ammunition and a blasting cap in an on-scene search of the vehicle, police impounded the car and took it to an airfield. There, they opened the trunk and found a gas mask, batteries, a time fuse and a pound of gunpowder.

Those items were used as evidence against Roeder at his trial.

But the appeals court overturned his conviction on the explosives charge. Judges ruled police had not shown adequate cause to impound the car, which Roeder had parked in a legal parking space when he was pulled over.