By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The 51 year old killer of abortionist George Tiller pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder yesterday in a Wichita court after witnesses gave a chilling account of seeing him put a gun to Tiller’s head and pulling the trigger.
According to the Associated Press, Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing the notorious late-term abortionist, sat motionless during testimony while witnesses gave their account of the shooting that took place in the lobby of a church on May 31.
An usher at the church, Gary Hoepner, said he and the doctor were chatting in the church foyer when Roeder walked through the door, put a gun to Tiller’s head and shot him. Hoepner said he wasn’t sure if the weapon was real until he saw Tiller drop to the ground.
At that point, Hoepner went after Roeder who had left the church but stopped after Roeder warned, “I’ve got a gun and I’ll shoot you.”
Hoepner also said that he heard the gunman say something that sounded like “Lord, forgive me” after the shooting.
The doctor who performed the autopsy testified that Tiller died from a single shot from a gun held pressed to the right side of his forehead. The bullet lodged at the back of his skull.
Thus far, Roeder has refused to discuss his alleged role in Tiller’s death, giving long and rambling jailhouse interviews in which he repeatedly says the killing of an abortionist is a justifiable homicide.
“Violence is not wrong in all situations, so if it takes that — then if it is done righteously — then, if it’s done, it is OK,” Roeder has said.
Roeder is being held on $20 million bond and a trial date has been set for Sept. 21. Prosecutors have said they will not pursue the death penalty. If convicted, Roeder he is likely to face life in prison and will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
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