Posted Jan 29, 2010 04:14 am CST
In a major setback to a defendant who admitted at trial earlier today that he fatally shot an abortion doctor as he was attending church, the judge in the Kansas case has ruled out the possibility of permitting the jury to convict Scott Roeder on a lesser manslaughter charge, reports the Associated Press.
Because abortion is legal in Kansas and because Dr. George Tiller did not pose an imminent threat to the fetuses Roeder sought to protect, the defendant cannot show he had an unreasonable but honest belief that he was justified in killing the physician at his Wichita church, ruled Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert. “There is no immediate danger in the back of a church,” the judge said.
That means the jury will have to decide whether Roeder was guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in Tiller’s slaying, the Wichita Eagle reports.
After Roeder’s testimony earlier today that he shot Tiller, public defender Mark Rudy said the defense informed authorities before his client took the stand where the gun used on the physician could be found and they are now looking for it, the newspaper recounts.
Closing arguments in the case are expected to begin tomorrow morning.