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The Unconvincing Defense
January 29, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Scott Roeder has been convicted of first degree murder after barely a half hour of jury deliberation. Apparently the jury was not even slightly swayed by the "voluntary manslaughter" defense. Here is a bit more information about Roeder.
posted by bearwife (75 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a stray "A" at the end of your main URL.
posted by brundlefly at 4:37 PM on January 29, 2010


Sorry, and thanks.
posted by bearwife at 4:38 PM on January 29, 2010


See this MeTa for the discussion topic.
posted by mosk at 4:41 PM on January 29, 2010


Oh, and good news.
posted by brundlefly at 4:45 PM on January 29, 2010


Pro-lifers who support the death penalty must be really torn about this.
posted by mullingitover at 4:50 PM on January 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


I've always been opposed to the death penalty, but I'd be happy to suspend my objections in this case.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 PM on January 29, 2010


A lurking and concerning issue for me is how well served Roeder was by his defense team's "he's a hero" defense. The statements he made during trial reported in the last link suggest he is truly delusional.
posted by bearwife at 4:53 PM on January 29, 2010


Pro-lifers who support the death penalty must be really torn about this.

Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, in what I've read of their opinion thus far they are not. "Thou shall not kill" seems to come with some pre-existing conditions...
posted by rollbiz at 4:53 PM on January 29, 2010


Good.
posted by boo_radley at 4:55 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The statements he made during trial reported in the last link suggest he is truly delusional.

I totally disagree, he seemed entirely with it and rational in his belief that he needed to kill Dr. Tiller in order to save lives. If anything, I thought his defense attorney, a public defender, did a fantastic job at doing what he was supposed to do.
posted by rollbiz at 4:55 PM on January 29, 2010


Whats the opposite of "."?
posted by Artw at 4:58 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Basically a terrorist and/or assassin, at least by our current definitions. The Oklahoma City bomber also felt justified.
posted by Peach at 4:58 PM on January 29, 2010


Whats the opposite of "."?

"Hot diggity damn!"
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:01 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The New York Post must be furious that this terrorist was given a civilian trial.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:04 PM on January 29, 2010 [33 favorites]


I've always been opposed to the death penalty, but I'd be happy to suspend my objections in this case.

Please don't. That would make you as much of a hypocrite as Roeder and the other anti-choice pro-death crazies. Less of a murderer, but as much of a hypocrite.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 5:05 PM on January 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Pro-lifers who support the death penalty must be really torn about this.

That's not the only thing, apparently.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2010


So were they doing for the other 30 minutes?
posted by CaptApollo at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I heard part of his testimony on the radio. What was disturbing to me was how lucid and unrepentant he was.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2010


so WHAT were. dangit.
posted by CaptApollo at 5:13 PM on January 29, 2010


I've always been opposed to the death penalty, but I'd be happy to suspend my objections in this case.

Roeder has always been opposed to murder, but he suspended his objections in this case as well. You should probably keep that in mind.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on January 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


I am pretty adamant against the death penalty as well, I also recognize that there are rare exceptions where I may feel differently. As much as I absolutely am in favor of this conviction and am glad the "voluntary manslaughter" defense was given such short shift and that it took such little time for the conviction to come down, this does not fall into the liminal space where I could suspend my opposition to the death penalty. I understand why people feel that way however.

In general very few of our dearly held convictions are absolute convictions, as much as we wish they where. To label all of us hypocrites, which is essentially what we are under strict rules, may be a bit harsh.

In the end this is not a reason to feel happy, but sad for the slain and for the life Roeder (his own) wasted, and anger at Roeder as well.
posted by edgeways at 5:20 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd be happy to suspend my objections in this case.

Then you aren't particularly anti-death penalty, are you? Being anti-death penalty except when you really, really hate the perpetrator kind of defeats the point.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:21 PM on January 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


Given that this is Peter, I believe that people are missing the irony punctuation mark that should probably accompany many of his posts. It's an English thing, I understand...
posted by Maias at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2010


I don't really get what the point is in execution. I mean, once they're dead, that's it. No more suffering, no more problems, nothing to worry about. How is that even punishment?

In the meta thread someone said they hoped this guy would get murdered in jail, or something. But why?

How are you better of with him dead, and how would he be worse off? It seems to me rotting in jail for the rest of your life would be worse.

I realize that people don't want to die and the anticipation would be bad. But that wouldn't happen if he was murdered in jail.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


http://www.examiner.com/x-33854-Portland-Liberal-Examiner~y2010m1d29-Jury-reaches-verdict-in-murder-trial-of-abortion-doctor--guilty-of-1st-degree-murder

That URL is a little misleading.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:26 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, this was a lose-lose situation. Not only because all the verdicts in the world won't bring back the murder victim, but because there's no winning move. If he had been let off, it would have been a travesty of justice. As it is, with him going boldly into his sentencing, he's a martyr, a hero of the revolution being persecuted for his duty to God and babies.

A cursory look over the responses on Twitter after the verdict was returned didn't reveal too many people cheering on his bravery, but I'm sure they'll turn up sooner or later, explaining how his murder of an unarmed man in a church was civil disobedience on par with the lunch counter sit-ins.

Once the bullet was fired, there was really only one way all of this could go, and it's not in a way that prevents future bullets from being fired. I think this is far from over.
posted by Legomancer at 5:28 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't shed too heavy a tear if he was aborted in jail.
posted by localhuman at 5:28 PM on January 29, 2010


The last thing I want is for that guy to get the death penalty and his movement to thusly get a new martyr to rally around.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:29 PM on January 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Let's just say that if his spaceship were falling into a blackhole and he was all "no, I'd rather die than have you save me" I'd be all "fair enough, eat photon death, fucker."
posted by Artw at 5:32 PM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've always been opposed to the death penalty, but I'd be happy to suspend my objections in this case.

Why? Because you find revenge just as seductive as the death penalty proponents?
posted by caddis at 5:33 PM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


And NPR News just informed me that it's a mandatory life sentence in Kansas, so I can stop worrying.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:34 PM on January 29, 2010


Pro-lifers who support the death penalty must be really torn about this.

I'm somewhat in both categories: I have a lot of reservations about both abortion and the death penalty and believe in limits to both. But I'd say my reservations about the death penalty as dealt by vigilantes are considerably higher, and there doesn't seem to be any dispute about the facts of the case: that's what Roeder did.

I'm not sure killing him will fix anything, but I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over his execution.
posted by weston at 5:53 PM on January 29, 2010


I wish him to live a long life in prison, at least long enough to see the cause he killed for become totally irrelevant. Now that would be a fate worse than death.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:00 PM on January 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Now, how about all the people who helped him....
posted by ennui.bz at 6:05 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I imagine Roeder feels fine. Remember, he is absolutely 100% sure that he will be going to heaven. What's a couple of decades in prison compared to an eternity in paradise?
posted by telstar at 6:06 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because you find revenge just as seductive as the death penalty proponents?

Or those (in this thread and elsewhere) who are opposed to the death penalty because they think life imprisonment involves more suffering?

Personally I have issues with the death penalty only because there's no recourse for error. In this case, it's incredibly hard to see how there could be error --- there were a ton of witnesses, he admits it, it was quite premeditated --- and so it wouldn't bother me. However, these kind of cases are rare enough I'd also be fine with just banning capital punishment entirely.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:08 PM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


When he loses his appeal and settles in for a long, long prison stint, I hope he takes some time to actually get to know Tiller and see the world through his eyes. I hope the long hours of incarceration spark off his atrophied sense of empathy. I hope this eventually crushes him, and out of that he reforms himself from within, publicly apologizes, and does what he can to raise awareness of the need for skilled physicians who can perform these dangerous abortions when they are truly medically necessary. I also hopes he rebukes the militant anti-abortion groups and encourages them to rethink their ideologies. Then, as he continues his long, long sentence, I hope he is a helpful inmate to his fellow inmates. That's it, really. No bloodlust or weird poetic justices, just life spent attempting to repay the impossibly unpayable debt of murder.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:13 PM on January 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Apparently the jury was not even slightly swayed by the "voluntary manslaughter" defense.
I don't understand this claim. The judge did not allow the jury to consider a verdict of manslaughter.

I didn't notice (although I might have missed) anything in the links similar to "Juror so-and-so said that he wasn't swayed by the defense's claims of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder", so I'm guessing that you're claiming this because it only took them 37 minutes to find him guilty of murder. But I don't see how the short time to that finding, given that their only options were that or "innocent", implies that they wouldn't have seriously considered manslaughter instead, had they been allowed to.

I should probably be clear: I'm very happy that they found him guilty of murder, and I think that finding him guilty of manslaughter would have been a travesty.
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 PM on January 29, 2010


Not to continue a pileon, we're all entitled to our opinions. Mine is:

I've always been opposed to the death penalty and I still am, even for this guy.
posted by Skorgu at 6:34 PM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Shame his mother didn't just abort the asshole in the first place.
posted by w0mbat at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whats the opposite of "."?

Easy, that's the multiplication dot, so the opposite is the division 'slash':

/

(though I agree, no death penalty for this one, definitely...)
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:50 PM on January 29, 2010


First he goes to Hell on Earth, then he goes to Hell. Very satisfying outcome.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:54 PM on January 29, 2010


He'll be spending a lot of time with the children of teenage pregnancies in the future. Unfortunately for Roeder, they will be twisted adults, not idealized fetuses with angel wings.
posted by benzenedream at 6:57 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


So you were joking, Peter? Phew.

Australia and the USA are so close culturally in so many respects. I absolutely loved my short time there. But when it comes to religious extremes and the abortion debate... Earth to Mars. Come in Mars. Do you read?

The abortion debate in Australia is so civil in comparison it's just not funny.

Having said that… dim recollections of one murdered doctor on the Eastern seaboard…
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:22 PM on January 29, 2010


I don't really get what the point is in execution. I mean, once they're dead, that's it. No more suffering, no more problems, nothing to worry about. How is that even punishment?
??? WTF?

Was that also a joke?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:26 PM on January 29, 2010


I have to agree with wildcrdj on this one. My objections to the death penalty fall mostly, if not entirely, under the heading of "but we can't be sure." I've done quite a bit of research on the subject, took a class on it in law school and such, and the number of convictions of death penalty cases that are posthumously determined to have been completely wrong or at least flawed is staggering. Under these circumstances, I don't see much risk of that. Plus, you don't punish cancer, you just cut it out.

That having been said, while Kansas technically has the death penalty, they have not actually executed someone since 1976.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 7:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


*shrug* Killin's too good for him. I want him to spend several decades in solitary, in a cell papered floor to ceiling with picture's of his victim.
posted by happyroach at 7:32 PM on January 29, 2010


happyroach: *shrug* Killin's too good for him. I want him to spend several decades in solitary, in a cell papered floor to ceiling with picture's of his victim.

Wouldn't that just force him to cling ever more strongly to his ideological justifications for his actions, as a way to avoid going insane with guilt?
posted by Dysk at 8:00 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


So were they doing for the other 30 minutes?

They were probably trying to decide how long to wait before they can come out without looking like they made a decision in 7 minutes.

My big concern is that this conviction has done nothing to dissuade others who would try to kill abortion providers. They are still going to be cheered on and those who are convicted are going to be viewed as martyrs for the cause - unjustly convicted for doing what they think is right.

So, we end up with an unrepentant murderer and, if possible, an even more radicalized right wing fringe intent on killing more providers.
posted by Leezie at 8:11 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even better than a life sentence, I wish the judge in this case could order Mr. Roeder to volunteer the next 25-50 years of his life to raise funds for women who do not have insurance coverage for abortions.
posted by muddgirl at 8:28 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes, and a thousand times more yes to him having enough time in the clink to realize that what he did was terrible and inexcusable.

It's called the correctional system for a reason, and I while I don't think that most of us would be satisfied with the job being done at correcting in general, this man deserves no less of a chance to be corrected than does anyone else doing a life bid. On the off chance that it happens, we'll be better off as a society for allowing it to happen rather than wishing him the death penalty or a well placed shank or whatever...
posted by rollbiz at 8:30 PM on January 29, 2010


Being disgustingly punitive isn't only disgusting when it involves punishment you don't agree with for crimes that you can't personally fathom, is I guess what I'm trying to say.
posted by rollbiz at 8:34 PM on January 29, 2010


I initially was concerned about him getting out and killing again when his parole comes up in 25 years, but by then he'll be 76. Either they won't let him out, or he won't be much of a threat.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:48 PM on January 29, 2010


Remember, he is absolutely 100% sure that he will be going to heaven. What's a couple of decades in prison compared to an eternity in paradise?

I'm picturing St Peter at the Pearly Gates, shooing off the murderer Roeder to the other place, then saying over his shoulder, to his companion just behind:

"Christ, what an asshole!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:48 PM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


And NPR News just informed me that it's a mandatory life sentence in Kansas, so I can stop worrying.

He'll be eligible for parole in 25 years. So if he behaves and "repents," he might just be free in 2035. Considering his self-righteous, insane performance in that courtroom, I'm not sure how easy it will be for him to pretend to be remorseful, but suspect that he'll manage to do so.

He admitted that this was premeditated:
Roeder testified that he considered elaborate schemes to stop the doctor, including chopping off his hands, crashing a car into him or sneaking into his home to kill him.

But in the end, Roeder told jurors, the easiest way was to walk into Tiller's church, put a gun to the man's forehead and pull the trigger.

posted by zarq at 9:54 PM on January 29, 2010


Sorry... quote is from this link.
posted by zarq at 9:54 PM on January 29, 2010


oneswellfoop: I wish him to live a long life in prison, at least long enough to see the cause he killed for become totally irrelevant. Now that would be a fate worse than death.

Like the dudes who are still serving time for stealing VCRs in 1997.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:01 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


He'll be eligible for parole in 25 years.
No, I believe that he could be sentenced such that he will be eligible for parole in 25 years, but that the prosecution has said that they'll be pushing for a minimum parole time of 50 years.
posted by Flunkie at 10:02 PM on January 29, 2010


Let's all donate as much money as we can come up with to Planned Parenthood and let this asshole know how much he actually did to rally us to the cause.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:02 PM on January 29, 2010


"I don't really get what the point is in execution. I mean, once they're dead, that's it. No more suffering, no more problems, nothing to worry about. How is that even punishment?"

This is why I've recently switched tactics from advocating assassination to advocating severe maimings for publicly irresponsible haters of thought like Palin, Limbaugh, etc. Yeah, you still create a martyr blah blah but the people who follow these folks are pretty superficial. They'd be outwardly sad, but they'd be like, "No way can I follow a cripple who can't even talk anymore!" Plus, it would be hilarious, what with the lifelong suffering.

Of course, those responsible would need to own up and publicly declare themselves. They would become polarizing figures in the public consciousness. But just think, this could create a whole new level of political discourse!
posted by Eideteker at 5:09 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"because all the verdicts in the world won't bring back the murder victim"

I just keep thinking of all the poor fetuses that won't be sent right back to the loving arms of God, and instead will be made to slog through 70-odd years of low-socioeconomic hell before being given a fifty-fifty chance of making it into heaven (and not even that, because let's face it, God hates the poor). I can't believe our heartless government won't mandate abortions.
posted by Eideteker at 5:15 AM on January 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Plus, it would be hilarious, what with the lifelong suffering.

what
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:16 AM on January 30, 2010


Eideteker: advocating the severe maiming of people you don't like is disgusting. Please do not do that here.
posted by dubold at 6:04 AM on January 30, 2010


"To the pain means; I leave you wallowing in freakish misery forever."
posted by Severian at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2010


I think you misread my comment. Read it again.
posted by Eideteker at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2010


delmoi : In the meta thread someone said they hoped this guy would get murdered in jail, or something. But why?

Because whether he gets life or death, both options cost society a lot of money over those 25+ years it takes to actually get around to killing the bastard.

Now, in a lot of cases, I would say the we have enough doubt that we owe the person at least the benefit of countless rounds of appeals before depriving them of their life. But here? You have a hundred first-hand witnesses and the guy's own totally unrepentant testimony. If ever you could argue in favor of summary execution, this seems like the case for it.

So, him getting shanked on his first night in seems like the outcome with the maximum possible benefit to society as a whole.

And in the interest of "full disclosure", I have no moral objection to the death penalty; I oppose it only because I don't trust our legal system enough to accurately determine guilt 100% of the time (and anything less than 100% amounts to a monstrosity when talking about executing an innocent person). So if/when we have 100% confidence that he did it... Juice the fucker up.
posted by pla at 8:30 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with pla and a few others on this. The only reason to ban the death penalty is because of it's abuse. This is a clear case where the death penalty is appropriate. He should get his 48 hours then carry out sentence. Flood his room with nitrogen and be done with it. It's not revenge, it's removing a tumor.
I don't know how people support these fantasies that he will repent or feel remorse. He is broken. There is no question in anyone's mind that he did indeed kill Dr. Tiller and he did so in cold blood. It's not just he said she said, or ambivalent evidence that suggests he could have done it and is the most likely but doesn't actually prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he did in fact do it.
It's clear he did it. We have no reason to keep him around.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:52 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently the jury was not even slightly swayed by the "voluntary manslaughter" defense.

I don't understand this claim. The judge did not allow the jury to consider a verdict of manslaughter.


The defense argued it anyway. The defense essentially said Roeder was a hero. The jury could have bought this and acquitted . . . did you see the FPP about a week ago on jury nullification.

I am bothered by the last link in my FPP, which says:

I spoke to Scott Roeder at least a dozen times over the course of reporting. He told me he listened to Bill O'Reilly sometimes on the radio. (Scott wasn't a guy who had cable - he worked at marginal jobs and moved apartments an awful lot.) And he liked Bill O'Reilly. But Scott had a keen interest in and hunger for learning about terrible conspiracies that lay, as he believed, just beneath the fabric of society. He went to meetings where people discussed how the Illuminati were controlling the country and the world and feeding innocent women into a satanic sex cult. He believed the fluoride in drinking water was there to render the masses more docile, which is why he wouldn't drink from a tap. He believed federal tax laws weren't laws at all - and so they needn't be followed. And he believed in the information about George Tiller fed to him through websites and literature and conversation by the most violent fringe of the pro life movement. He believed Dr. Tiller intentionally tortured babies. He believed that once, when a fetus had been delivered still breathing during one of Dr Tiller's procedures, Dr. Tiller killed it with his bare hands.

Talking about the sick things Dr. Tiller supposedly did was one of Scott's favorite topics during our conversations. After all, if you are going to murder someone, it's not enough simply to say you have a philosophical difference with him. And he presented all this to me as if it had been printed in the New York Times. He presented this information to me as if it were unimpeachable
.

I think Dr. Tiller's murder was an atrocity, but am unsure that Roeder is evil so much as very, very deluded. Some of the most dangerous people in the US aren't evil, but crazy.
posted by bearwife at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason to ban the death penalty is because of it's abuse. This is a clear case where the death penalty is appropriate. He should get his 48 hours then carry out sentence.
It's significantly easier to abuse things that are allowed than to abuse things that are not allowed.
posted by Flunkie at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2010


By murdering Tiller, he acts as god, choosing to take a life to preserve what he deems innocent lives. The anti-choice camp that produced him would refuse abortion to save the life of the pregnant woman. They're opposed to sex education and birth control education for kids.

I was really afraid the jury might let him go, so this is good news. Maybe things aren't quite as bad as I thought.
posted by theora55 at 3:12 PM on January 30, 2010


If there are people who should actually be in Guantanamo Bay, this guy is one of them.
posted by tehloki at 7:47 PM on January 30, 2010


Well, it is more of a terrorist act than pieing somebody in the face.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:07 PM on January 30, 2010


If there are people who should actually be in Guantanamo Bay, this guy is one of them.

Except that it's "enemy combatants" that go there, not terrorists. Why, this guy wasn't the enemy! He was probably a staunch Republican, and a good Christian, he must've been on YOUR side, right America?

This verdict, and the impossibility of the death penalty as a sentence please me greatly.
posted by Dysk at 2:49 AM on January 31, 2010


It's significantly easier to abuse things that are allowed than to abuse things that are not allowed.

I think you can regulate abuse without having to resort to all out bans. Some police abuse discretionary powers and reasonable cause all the time, does that mean we should ban them? No, we should regulate them and define when they can be used.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:31 AM on January 31, 2010


There's the problem: regulation. The police are barely regulated in the use of their discretionary powers, and prosecutors are under equally lax regulation when it comes to the death penalty. How many of the prosecutors who have prosecuted the men who were freed by the Innocence Project have been brought to trial, or even censured? There are prosecutors out there who have sent men to death row with deliberately perjured testimony, and I have yet to hear of one of them being punished for it beyond disbarment (and even that's rare).

And then we have a Supreme Court who rules that actual guilt or innocence, or any evidence you can obtain on the matter is immaterial, so long as you had a trial that fell within the outer limits of the formal rules. Lawyer fell asleep? No problem, since there's no formal rule against it. Set down in that chair and keep your mouth shut. Subsequent research shows that the prosecution's expert witnesses were completely wrong? No problem, since they were testifying to the best of their knowledge at the time. Set down in that chair and keep your mouth shut.

If we had a strong mechanism for catching and rectifying false convictions, as well as weeding out careerist prosecutors who are only interested in getting a conviction rather than actual justice, your position would make sense. But we live in a world that isn't just less than perfect, we live in one that mocks perfection and spits in its face. So we are all better off without the death penalty, even if it means we have to pay to keep Scott Roeder alive for 50 years.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:36 AM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


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