No Conceivable Defense: Calling on Kansas

Ron, Wichita Eagle Reporter, kind soul for putting up with my texting for trial updates, taking Saturday phone calls from this annoying New Yorker, Sylvester, and I exchanged a brief set of texts this morning:

Andy:  1/15 10:08 am — hey ron…any word subpoena for tillers records?

Ron:  1/15 10:16 am – Nope.

Andy:  1/15 10:21 am – Thx for putting up with my questions

Ron:  1/15 10:23 am – NP.  Lee Thompson, the Tiller’s lawyer, says he hasn’t heard anything either, and he would know.

Then Ron tweeted:

@rsylvester:  “Maybe they won’t push it since it has nothing to do with any conceivable defense.”

Quoting Lee Thompson.

He – Ron – is back in the courtroom, holding one of the 4 seats allotted for press during jury selection in the murder trail of Dr. George Tiller.  I decided to leave him alone for a while, stop pestering him – let the man work.

But I can’t stop with the Tiller trial.  There are so many moving parts, so much to fear and take heart in, it keeps me up some nights.  I have been blogging constantly about this, here on OS and on my own blog.  I am reading all the news that’s fit to print and transmit.

This trial is the reason I broke my longstanding self-imposed embargo against joining Twitter.

And that, my friends, is saying something.

Jury selection continues.  It is slow going.  This week after a delayed start to proceedings because of motions filed by four news outlets to open the court to the press for jury selection, things seem to be eeking along.

Then there was the subpoena filed by the defense, seeking access to Dr. Tiller’s personal records, including his date book with pending appointments scheduled. The defense claimed they wouldn’t release any names. They were seeking the records to determine how many unborn lives would have been saved — in Scott Roeder’s mind — to aid their defense.

My gut turns.

Not only because of the idea of building a defense around a claim of Voluntary Manslaughter for a clearly premeditated act of not only murder — but terror — but because I support Scott Roeder’s right to a vigorous defense.

What is wrong with me?!

I support this man, this killer, this cold blooded hunter’s right to a fair trial, for every possible stone to be overturned in building his case, the one that could result in 5 years instead of life.

It is not about what this man did.  Kansas, stand up and take notice.  You, Kansas, have a horribly broken law, you Kansas, need to fix this terrible mistake.

You need to shout it from rooftops.  When this despicable trial is over, when justice has been served.  You must work to repeal this as a mechanism for defense, because here is what you may be in for if Voluntary Manslaughter is what the jury finds.  Based on Kansas law, by one of the two criteria, I – holding the unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force could murder in cold blood the following:

Members of Operation Rescue

    • Members of Operation Rescue
    • The Boston Red Sox (I am a Yankees fan)
    • My Ex-Husband
    • The first boy who broke my daughter’s heart
    • People who drive slowly in the left lane

Overboard?  Maybe.

Would I ever follow through on any of these?

Just the Red Sox one.

That is the tricky thing about a law like this — a law that allows broad interpretation about what one’s honest beliefs are.   I have a lot of honest beliefs. But I don’t honestly believe any of them justify murder.

3 thoughts on “No Conceivable Defense: Calling on Kansas

  1. Judge Wilbert quoted a Kansas Supreme Court ruling regarding the jury instruction for voluntary manslaughter. In that case, Bobby White drove two hours to kill his son-in-law at work whom he believed was abusing his grandson (who was at the babysitter’s at the time). In his second trial (it had to be retried because the judge didn’t allow a defense witness), the judge did not give the jury the option of voluntary manslaughter. The KS Supreme Court ruled this was proper because the son-in-law was not an imminent threat to the grandson at the time he was killed. Roeder’s defense team would have to prove Dr. Tiller was an imminent threat. If a a grandfather is convicted of first-degree murder (twice) when he felt he was protecting his grandson from abuse, then Roeder can’t drive three hours to stalk Dr. Tiller on multiple weekends and eventually shoot him in a church on a Sunday morning. We have some more info here: bit.ly/8GBpNB

  2. Thanks for your post and I like what you are doing with Roeder watch. I do have a question though, about the VM law – it is either or correct? Either “heat of passion” or “unreasonable but honest”. That is my understanding and the understanding of a couple of people I have chatted with. The way I see it/read it/understand it is that if Roeder – for whatever reason – had an honest belief he was protecting the lives “babies” – the defense Voluntary Manslaughter “imperfect defense” could be allowed. Thoughts?

  3. It is either/or, but deadly force is only justified if there is an imminent threat. Roeder has to prove he had the unreasonable but honest belief that Dr. Tiller was imminently going to use unlawful force. And if the jury is given the instruction to consider VM, they must first decide that the assassination was not premeditated, first-degree murder and, following that, not second-degree murder. But Judge Wilbert may decide after hearing all the evidence not to give the voluntary manslaughter jury instruction. And while he has said he has an open mind, that does not mean that witnesses will get to say whatever they damn well please to put Dr. Tiller on trial, though that really is what the antis, especially the terrorists, want. Phill Kline might like the opportunity to say Dr. Tiller committed crimes, but Judge Wilbert might not allow that line of questioning.

    Thanks for your comments about the blog :) We’ve worked fairly hard on it the last few months (which have been trying in their own right).

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