WICHITA, Kan. — Judge Warren Wilbert on Thursday sentenced Scott Roeder to life in prison for the first-degree murder of abortion provider George Tiller, and ruled he must serve at least 50 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.
Wilbert told Roeder he can earn a 15 percent good time credit and has 10 days to file an appeal. Wilbert said if Roeder lives past 102, then gets parole, he also faces lifetime supervision after his release.
Wilbert also sentenced Roeder to 12 months on each count to run consecutive for the aggravated assault of Gary Hoepner and Keith Martin, the men Roeder pointed the gun at after he shot Tiller.
Roeder yelled "The blood of babies is on your hands, Nola Foulston ... And Ann Swegle," as guards quickly ushered him out of court. Foulston is the district attorney and Swegle, the prosecutor who prosecuted the case.
Earlier, Wilbert and Roeder had sparred over a lengthy statement Roeder made in court. After 40 minutes, Wilbert stopped him, saying the court was not "a soapbox" for Roeder's political views. He later looked over the remainder of Roeder's statement, said part of it was not relevant to the hearing and accepted the rest for the file.
"I will accept them and seal them and they will be part of the record," Wilbert said. That way appeals courts can decide if it all should have been presented in open court, the judge said. He asked if Roeder if he had anything further to say.
"As for the Hard 50, I don't think I deserve that," Roeder said. Wilbert then read the law to Roeder on the aggravating factor he decided.
Roeder spoke about shooting Tiller at a church. "They were not holding Tiller accountable for his sins. Reformation Lutheran was not a true church," he said. Roeder then began to talk about members and pastors of the church. Judge Wilbert shut him down once again.
"It only takes one or two sentences to say I didn't believe it was a holy place ... The rest is just political diatribe," Wilbert said. After Roeder said he wanted to address expectant mothers, Wilbert stopped him again, saying, "I'm not going to provide you with an all-night political forum."
Public defender Mark Rudy argued mitigating factors against the Hard 50 are lack of criminal history and Roeder had an impaired capacity to conform his conduct to the law. "We believe those two factors outweigh the aggravating circumstances," Rudy said.
Ann Swegle argued for the prosecution, "He doesn't of the law of the God he says he follows. That says do not kill."
Steve Osburn, Roeder's public defender, objected to the judge's limits on Roeder's statement. "This is what he believes. This is what he thinks you need to decide on a sentence," Osburn said.
After Roeder spoke off his notes, Wilbert responded "You killed Dr. Tiller. You're not going to politically assassinate Nola Foulston. I'm going to draw the line there."
"If you would follow a higher power, you would acquit me," Roeder said.
"If you think you're going to convince me with some last-minute plea, you're wasting your time," Wilbert responded. Wilbert said Roeder should focus on the Hard 50. "That's the only decision left today," Wilbert said.
Osburn objected to the court stopping Roeder's right to speak. Wilbert said he hadn't stopped Roeder; he had offered guidance.
"We have 10 abortion providers or less and 50 million who have perished at their hands," Roeder said in the statement.
He added, "How is it a man can speak openly and freely at his sentencing but not at his trial?"
"This court stifled my testimony," he continued.
"The blame for George Tiller's death lies more with the state of Kansas, than with me. You may sentence me to 25 or 50 years in prison but it does not serve justice in any way."
Roeder then read from a book by Paul Hill, who killed a Fla. doctor. "I agree with Paul Hill wholeheartedly." "God will avenge every drop of blood that stains Kansas grass," he continued. Roeder quoted the 10 Commandments and other Old Testament scripture.
"Give me liberty to defend the unborn or give me death," Roeder said.
Read the full story at Kansas.com