Tiller’s Suspected Killer Complains He’s Being Treated ‘Like a Criminal’

June 5, 2009 - 5:03 AM
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Wichita, Kan. (AP) - The man accused of shooting a Kansas abortion provider to death as he handed out programs at a Sunday church service said he appreciates the prayers said for him and his family in the wake of his arrest.
 
"I haven't been convicted of anything, and I am being treated as a criminal," Scott Roeder said Thursday. He called The Associated Press from the Sedgwick County Jail in response to a written request for an interview.
 
The 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Tiller with a single gunshot while the doctor served as usher at the Lutheran church he attended in Wichita. Roeder also is accused of assaulting two witnesses before leaving the church and driving away. He was arrested a few hours later.
 
When asked by the AP to discuss the Tiller shooting, Roeder refused to comment, saying he would talk about that later.
 
In the three-minute telephone conversation, he also disputed what he called "broad brush" characterizations of him as being anti-government.
 
"I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government; it is anti-corrupt government," Roeder said.
 
He said he was concerned about how the media attention was affecting his family, particularly his elderly mother.
 
"I appreciate your prayers," said Roeder, who has a preliminary court hearing scheduled for June 16. District Judge Warren Wilbert set Roeder's bond on Thursday at $5 million, reversing an earlier ruling to deny bond.
 
Dan Monnat, the Tiller family attorney, declined to comment on Roeder's statements.
 
If convicted on the murder charge, Roeder would face a mandatory life sentence and would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.
 
Hundreds of people are expected at Tiller's funeral on Saturday. The late-term abortion provider and his clinic were a regular target of anti-abortion protests, including the 45-day "Summer of Mercy" event staged by Operation Rescue in 1991. His clinic was damaged by a pipe bomb in 1986, and a protester shot at Tiller in 1993, wounding his arms.
 
The Wichita clinic was among a few in the United States that performed third-trimester abortions. Tiller's family have said there are no immediate plans to reopen the clinic in the wake of doctor's death.
 
Roeder's former wife, Lindsey Roeder, has said her ex-husband's family life began unraveling more 10 years ago when he got involved in anti-government groups and became a staunch abortion opponent. The two divorced in 1996 and have one son, now 22.
 
Roeder has also suffered from mental illness at various times in his life, his brother, David, has said.