Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, began criminal proceedings yesterday. According to the New York Times:
Dr. George R. Tiller was standing beside a refreshment table inside his church, discussing his fondness for doughnuts, when a man walked up, pressed a gun against the doctor’s head and fired, a fellow church member recalled on Tuesday . . .
On Tuesday, Mr. Roeder, wearing a jacket, tie and leg shackles, sat in the courtroom, appearing to listen closely to the testimony against him and jotting notes at times. Tuesday’s testimony suggested that Mr. Roeder, a vocal opponent of abortion, had been to the church several times before, including on the Sunday before the shooting, and that ushers and others had taken note of him as someone who was not a member. On that earlier Sunday, Mr. Hoepner said, Mr. Roeder had placed a written note (with some reference to taxes, which Mr. Roeder has also told friends he opposes) in the collection plate . . .
Mr. Roeder, who used the e-mail name ServantofMessiah and was sometimes seen at abortion clinic protests in Kansas City, Kan., has indicated in one of a string of jailhouse interviews that he had contributed to Operation Rescue. But the group has said he was not a contributor . . .
The shooting occurred just as the service was starting, and Mr. Hoepner and Dr. Tiller, as ushers, had lingered in the foyer to hand out bulletins to latecomers after the crowds went inside the sanctuary. The two stood beside a table of juice and doughnuts, Mr. Hoepner said, exchanging small talk. It was then, he said, that Mr. Roeder emerged from the sanctuary through a door often used for those slipping off to the restroom, stepped into the foyer and shot Dr. Tiller.
I do not envy the members of Scott Roeder’s jury. Having just served as a juror on a murder trial, I can honestly say that I would not be able to give Mr. Roeder an unbiased hearing. The entire trial would be clouded by my belief that Dr. Tiller was a man who was just doing his job, that killing someone at church is a desecration of sacred space, and that anyone who murders someone because they perform abortions cannot truly call themselves pro-life. There is no way that I could set these beliefs aside or give Scott Roeder the benefit of the doubt. I sincerely hope that the people who are selected to adjudicate Scott Roeder’s guilt or innocence are able to approach the trial with an open mind. I, however, am not that person.