Breaking: Jury Convicts Scott Roeder of First Degree Murder

After deliberating for 37 minutes, a jury has found Scott Roeder, the murderer of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, guilty as charged. He now faces a mandatory life sentence with consideration for parole after 25 years. The prosecution is aiming for 50 years without parole.

Dr. Tiller is still dead, and abortion providers and clinic workers are still living in fear, so it’s a little difficult for me to celebrate in a moment like this. But what I do feel is intense relief.

Consider this an open thread.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

22 comments for “Breaking: Jury Convicts Scott Roeder of First Degree Murder

  1. Bleatmop
    January 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Good to see justice done. Now maybe Scott’s family and friends can get some closure.

  2. Henrietta G. Tavish
    January 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm


  3. January 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Well I’d say this is evidence that we can, in fact, try and convict terrorists in U.S. courts.

  4. Jen
    January 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Actually, the sentence that the prosecutors are going for is hard 50 — 50 years without parole. The sentencing hearing will be held on March 9th.

    (The hard 50 info comes from here:

    Here’s hoping his crazy supporters go home quietly defeated, and don’t channel their disappointment over the guilty verdict in more destructive/violent ways.

  5. preying mantis
    January 29, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    It’s ridiculous that we have to be relieved about this, but there it is. Hopefully this will help shut down the crazies who heard about the possibility of the lesser charge and started figuring out how willing they’d be to serve that sentence.

    • January 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for the info, Jen, I’ll edit the post.

      A note to everyone: could we please back away from using terms like “crazies” when what we mean is “fundamentalists” or “radical anti-choicers”? A lot of people find it ableist towards people with mental illnesses, and by many definitions I could personally be considered “crazy,” so. Thanks!

  6. Jen
    January 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Crap. I’m so bad at catching myself on that one. Thanks for the reminder, Cara!

  7. DTG in STL
    January 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I hope he gets the “Hard 50” sentence. Technically, it’s a lesser sentence than life w/ parole elegibility at 25 years since they would have to let him out after 50 years no matter what, but given his age (51 or 52 years old – he was 51 when he was arrested last summer), giving him the straight 50 year sentence would pretty much guarantee that he never gets out of prison for the rest of his life, as he would be over 100 years old when the sentence expires.

  8. KaeLyn
    January 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Amen, Jill. :)

    I’m so glad the jury did not turn this into an abortion debate circus and focused on proscuting Roeder for the crime he proudly admitted to. Listening to Roeder’s testimony yesterday, from my office at a well-known reproductive health clinic, was terrifying to me. I hope this verdict helps bring peace to Dr. Tiller’s loved ones.

  9. JFM
    January 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    How bizarre for the defense attorney to compare MLK to Roeder in his closing statement! Did it not occur to him that comparing a widely respected figure who was murdered to an actual murderer might not be logical, appropriate, or remotely effective? And in fact might actually be kind of enraging? There’s a vast and hugely important difference between peacefully but firmly standing up for one’s beliefs, and committing murder.

  10. Politicalguineapig
    January 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    *Cheers* Wow, they nailed his butt to the wall! I didn’t believe he was going to get convicted, but I’m glad to be wrong.

  11. Bitter Scribe
    January 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Kudos to the judge for 1) disallowing that disgraceful “necessity” defense and 2) not letting the jury have the manslaughter option.

    Someone who thinks murder is appropriate because of what amounts to a political disagreement is someone who should never walk free again.

  12. catfood
    January 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    @JFM, I have no idea really, but I wonder whether it was a wild Hail Mary tactic. If the defense attorney could get just one juror to go “Hey, maybe this Roeder fellow is a little like MLK…” he gets a hung jury and a retrial.

    It’s not like the defense had a lot of options, and from the lawyer’s point of view you might as well try whatever you can think of. (There’s no good defense. Take a shot at a bad one at least.)

    I’m not trying to sound sympathetic, just guessing at what the thought process might be.

  13. southern students for choice-athens
    January 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    The news is good enough that Roeder was convicted for first-degree murder and not manslaughter, which as things turned out wasn’t an option for the jury to consider. The technical differences between the two is of interest to lawyers but the main difference to be concerned about is that the latter might imply some sort of rationale, however misguided, that Roeder was acting to prevent some sort of greater harm from taking place. At least, that’s how it would have played in the media, especially to anti-choice folks.

    Given a first-degree murder conviction, it doesn’t make much difference if he gets 50 years or 25 years, in part because it would play the same either way to anti-choice activists and groups. What really would have made things better would have been if there had been another arrest, like of someone who aided or possibly conspired with Roeder, or who offered him some sort of assistance, or who lead him to believe he would have assistance in “getting away” with this, literally or figuratively. How that possibility played out is more important than labeling this terrorism, or getting however many years in prison.

  14. Icewyche
    January 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm


  15. Jamie
    January 29, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Hey Jill, I first caught this report over on Everysaturdaymorning blog, and good god was I ever relieved. I may live in Canada, but I keep an eye on stuff like this as American affairs, even domestic, sometimes can have an effect on Canadian domestic affairs.

    So yes, I am very happy that this murdering terrorist is going to jail for life, and my heart goes out to Dr. Tiller’s family. He was a good, brave, person.

  16. William
    January 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    …sometimes the good guys win. Heres to hoping Roeder picks a fight with the wrong man and shuffles loose this mortal coil a bit earlier than a 50 year sentence would imply.

  17. PrettyAmiable
    January 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Did anyone read what Roeder said re: abortion? He denied abortion rights essentially because he’s under the impression that his preferred male deity is the only one with the responsibility and right to take life (… after watching an episode of The 700 Club?).

    … Which collectively made the pro-choice movement say, “Oh, I see. Because GOD clearly killed Tiller in a church.” Even using his own logic, he’s guilty in the eyes of the church as well as the law. Jackass.

    Did anyone else wonder about the scare-tactics vans that were parked outside? If the anti-choice movement doesn’t endorse Roeder, then what exactly were they doing there?

  18. CulturalIconography
    January 30, 2010 at 12:45 am

    I don’t know how old Roeder is, but I hope this is indeed a life sentence for him. He needs to be in jail, as his actions are unforgivable, and he’s a danger to others. Someone far wiser than me once said there is no one more dangerous than someone who believes he has “God” on his side. (Please change the gender of the pronouns if you wish–it’s not that I think women are any less capable of murder.)

    I would really like to think this verdict might give other violence-prone anti-choice people pause. I hope so. I would also really like to think that someday women in the US will be able to exercise their right to reproductive choice and neither they nor their physicians will have to worry about fanatics attacking them. There are countries where this is true now, aren’t there?

    When Dr. Tiller’s clinic was referred to as a “fortress”, I thought, “A doctor’s office has to be fortified? That’s a sad commentary on our society.”

  19. William
    January 30, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Did anyone else wonder about the scare-tactics vans that were parked outside? If the anti-choice movement doesn’t endorse Roeder, then what exactly were they doing there?

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

    God has forbidden murder and lying and reserves the right to judge, something we have no business questioning because he is omnipotent and omniscient (except in those cases where the right person who worships the right god in the right way in order to be the instrument of his will). Keep on message!

  20. January 31, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Just to clarify the sentencing options facing the judge: The sentence for first-degree murder in Kansas is life. The only question is when he will be eligible for parole. The standard is parole eligibility after 25 years, but the state is pursuing the Hard-50, meaning he would have to serve 50 years before he can be considered for parole. At no point will the state parole board be required to parole him either way.

    The Hard-50 requires the state to prove one of 8 specific aggravating factors, only 1 of which could apply in this case. It is not really a good case for that factor, either, so I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never had a case where the prosecution asked for the Hard-50 and the judge didn’t give it, but this could be the one.

    Also, remember there are two other convictions for aggravated assault. Those sentences could be run consecutively to the parole eligibility for the life sentence.

  21. January 31, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Did you know that Mr. Roeder’s conviction happened exactly 12 years to the day of Eric Rudolph’s bombing of a Birmingham, Ala. women’s clinic. I did. I included the tidbit on my blog.

Comments are closed.