Society

George Tiller's Killer Gets A More Lenient Sentence

| by Robert Fowler

Scott Roeder, the man who gunned down Dr. George Tiller for providing late-term abortions in 2009, has received a reduced sentence of 25 years in prison until eligibility for parole. Prosecutors decided not to pursue a harsher sentence, citing Roeder's limited life expectancy.

On Nov. 23, Roeder was resentenced for the first-degree premeditated murder of Tiller and for aggravated assault.

On May 31, 2009, Roeder murdered Tiller at his church in Wichita, Kansas. A judge had originally sentenced Roeder to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole, but that ruling was overturned due to a Supreme Court decision in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

During his trial, Roeder expressed no remorse for shooting Tiller and asserted on the stand that he had acted on his conscience.

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"I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children," Roeder said in January 2010, according to The New York Times. "I shot him. If I didn't do it, the babies were going to die the next day."

In October 2014, Roeder was disciplined by the Kansas Department of Corrections after audiotape emerged of him allegedly threatening executive director Julie Burkhart of Trust Women, who had opened a women's health center in Wichita, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Roeder's lawyer, Billy Rork, asserted that Roeder had not directly threatened Burkhart and that he had been unfairly punished for exercising his First Amendment Rights.

Over eight years after murdering Tiller, Roeder has been sentenced to 25 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. Prosecutors had originally pushed for Roeder to serve 50 years before parole eligibility but withdrew the request.

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Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told reporters that the prosecution decided against seeking a 50-year sentence because they did not want a protracted trial and because they are skeptical that Roeder will survive the next 25 years.

Bennett did not comment on the state of 58-year-old Roeder's health.

The Tiller family approved of the more lenient sentence, expressing gratitude that the legal saga was finally coming to an end.

"With this legal closure, the Dr. George Tiller family will continue to heal and thrive and live fully in our communities," the Tiller family said in a statement.

Defense attorney Mark Rudy confirmed that Roeder would not appeal the sentence, concluding, "We are glad we can put this to rest."

Sources: AP via WRCB-TV, The Topeka Capital-Journal​, The New York Times / Photo credit: Tim Pierce/Wikimedia Commons

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