March 29, 2001
9:25 AM   Subscribe

James Charles Kopp, a fugitive on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, indicted in the killing of an abortion doctor in western New York, has been arrested in France.
posted by quirked (9 comments total)
Probably on his way to bomb the RU-486 makers...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:57 AM on March 29, 2001

How is a guy who stakes out and assassinates a guy as he's washing dishes in his kitchen charged only with second-degree murder?
posted by darren at 12:08 PM on March 29, 2001

"There's also a sadness on this day and a reliving of the event; the recognition that (his wife) no longer has a husband and that her four boys are without a father at a time when they really could use him most,"

For those who are interested, here's a litany of violence against abortion doctors during the past 8 years:
      • July 11, 2000 -- Abortion provider Dr. Garson Romalis stabbed outside his clinic in Vancouver, B.C.
      • October 23, 1998 -- Dr. Barnett Slepian killed by a sniper bullet through the kitchen window of his home near Buffalo, New York.
      • January 29, 1998 -- Off-duty police officer killed and nurse wounded when bomb explodes outside a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic. Eric Robert Rudolph charged in the case.
      • November 11, 1997 -- Dr Jack Fainman of Winnipeg, Minnesota, shot in the shoulder.
      • October 28, 1997 -- Physician in Rochester, New York, received minor shrapnel wounds.
      • January 16, 1997 -- Seven people injured in two bomb blasts an hour apart at an Atlanta abortion clinic. Rudolph also charged in this bombing.
      • November 10, 1995 -- Dr. Hugh Short of Ancaster, Ontario, shot in the elbow.
      • December 30, 1994 -- Two receptionists killed and five other people wounded in attack on two Boston-area abortion clinics. John Salvi convicted and sentenced to life without parole for opening fire inside the clinics. Salvi did world a favor and committed suicide in prison in 1996.
      • November 8, 1994 -- Dr. Garson Romalis shot in the leg while eating breakfast at home in Vancouver, B.C.
      • July 29, 1994 -- Anti-abortion activist Paul J. Hill, a former minister, attacks Dr. John Bayard Britton outside a Pensacola, Florida, clinic. Britton and his volunteer escort, James H. Barrett, killed, and Barrett's wife, June, wounded. Hill convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
      • August 19, 1993 -- Rachelle Shannon shoots Dr. George Tiller in the arms as he drives away from his Wichita, Kansas, clinic. Shannon convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
      • March 10, 1993 -- Michael Griffin shoots and kills Dr. David Gunn outside a Pensacola, Florida, clinic. Griffin convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
posted by darren at 1:25 PM on March 29, 2001

Darren, I looked really hard, but I couldn't find any reporting on the second-degree issue. My guess from what I have read is that the prosecutors didn't go after a first-degree indictment. Grand juries very rarely fail to return an indictment that a prosecutor asks for. But that's just a guess. Like you, I'm at a loss as to how this is not first-degree murder.

That's a pretty sad littany.
posted by anapestic at 1:40 PM on March 29, 2001

The reason that this sicko wasn't charged with first-degree murder is probably that such a charge brings the possibility of the death penalty. The extradition treaty that France has with the United States specifically prohibits France from sending back a person to a possible death sentence. To avoid international hassels, the prosecutors might have simply settled for a second-degree murder charge. I don't know for certain that this is the reason, but I do know that France has refused extradition requests on this basis before.
posted by hobbes103 at 4:46 PM on March 29, 2001

From an L.A. Times story:

"According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, the pair used the aliases of Ted Barnes and Joyce Maier and communicated with Kopp by speaking in code and writing draft email messages in a Yahoo email account.

"By using the 'drafts' feature, they avoided actually transmitting the messages. The intended recipient could read such messages by signing onto the same account."

Two questions:

A. What the fuck? The FBI is reading our e-mail?

B. If the FBI is monitoring Yahoo mail, how would the drafts feature foil them? Messages might not be transmitted from Point A to Point B this way, but the drafts are still transmitted from Point A to Yahoo to Point B.
posted by luke at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2001

According to this Washington Post story, the FBI was using wiretaps, which would suggest that they were behaving on the up-and-up (and, most likely, not reading mail on the Yahoo side of things); the story also confirms Hobbes' guess about the 2nd-degree charge as a way to help speed extradition.
posted by snarkout at 8:17 PM on March 29, 2001

So, can we get him back from the Frogs and then upgrade the charges to first-degree murder?
posted by darren at 6:34 AM on March 30, 2001

I still don't understand how the drafts would protect them. They wouldn't have to have access to Yahoo's computers if they have a wiretap on the New York abettors. This wiretap, I presume, gives the FBI access to all transmitted data in addition to voice, so the FBI should be able to tap a saved draft (transmitted from the abettors to Yahoo's servers) as an e-mail message (transmitted from the abettors to Kopp).

The only thing I can think of is that the court order only authorized the FBI to read e-mail between the abettors and Kopp, just as most wiretap orders only authorize the cops to listen to conversations between suspects, not between, for instance, a suspect and his mother. But the drafts feature is just a technicality. Clearly these were messages intended for Kopp. And with e-mail, the data is not sent directly to the recipient, any how. It is sent to the abettors' mail server, sent through dozens of nodes on the Net, sent to Kopps' mail server, then sent to Kopp.
posted by luke at 7:13 AM on March 30, 2001

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