October 27, 2015 — Sedgwick County, Kan., District Court Judge Warren Wilbert has rejected two motions filed on behalf of Scott Roeder, the man who shot abortion provider George Tiller, in his resentencing case, the Wichita Eagle reports (Leiker, Wichita Eagle, 10/23).
In 2010, Scott Roeder received a life sentence without the chance of parole for 50 years, called a "Hard 50," after being convicted of the 2009 shooting and killing of Tiller at the doctor's church in Wichita, Kan.
In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of Roeder, but the court ordered a resentencing by a lower court because a judge, as opposed to a jury, had imposed the 50-year sentence (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/27/14). The Hard 50 law was changed after the Supreme Court in a separate case ruled that only juries, not judges, could decide whether the evidence merits a sentence more severe than the mandatory minimum.
Roeder's resentencing case will have its next hearing March 23, 2016, according to Mark Rudy, chief attorney for the Sedgwick County Public Defender's Office. A new sentencing date for Roeder has not been set, but Rudy said he expected Roeder would be resentenced no sooner than next summer.
Details of the Two Motions
In one motion, Rudy said because the Hard 50 law has been altered since Roeder's original sentence, the state should not be allowed to use it in the resentencing, and the new sentence "should default to the 25-to-life sentence."
In response, the county District Attorney's Office said the changes were procedural, not substantive. The DA also said the altered Hard 50 law is constitutional, and that Roeder's rights would not be violated if the DA pursued a Hard 50 sentence despite the legislative changes to the law.
In the second motion, Rudy asked for a retrial based on a change in Kansas law. Kansas law now states that life starts at the moment of conception. Roeder previously claimed that he was saving the lives of fetuses by killing Tiller.
Wilbert rejected both motions on Friday (Wichita Eagle, 10/23).