October 27, 2014 — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld the murder conviction of the man who shot abortion provider George Tiller to death in 2009, but the court ordered a resentencing by a lower court because of a technical issue, Reuters reports (Murphy, Reuters, 10/24).
In 2010, Scott Roeder received a life sentence without the chance of parole for 50 years after being convicted of shooting and killing Tiller at the doctor's church in Wichita, Kan. (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/2/2010).
Roeder acknowledged at his trial that he killed Tiller, but he appealed his first-degree murder conviction and the 50-year sentence.
In his appeal, Roeder argued the jury should have been permitted to consider voluntary manslaughter, a lesser charge, because he believed that killing Tiller was justified to prevent future abortions. The court rejected that claim, as well as Roeder's request for a change of venue.
The court ordered a resentencing hearing because a judge, as opposed to a jury, had imposed the 50-year sentence. In Kansas, only a jury can impose a "Hard 50" sentence, as the punishment is often called. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said he plans to ask the jury for the same sentence (Reuters, 10/24).