Commentary: Roeder trial judge is being commendably cautious

The Kansas City StarJanuary 13, 2010 

Over the weekend I was tempted to pop off about what seemed like a bone-headed decision in the Scott Roeder murder case.

How could Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert even consider allowing a jury to find George Tiller's confessed killer guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder?

For a premeditated killing?

Surely that would send a message to extremists that they could kill abortion doctors and escape life sentences, as long as they were convinced that deadly force was necessary to save the lives of the unborn.

Those were the fears we've been hearing from abortion rights activists as well as some in the anti-abortion movement.

I was willing to join in the hand-wringing. But thanks to my tendency toward procrastination and laziness, I never got around to posting that piece on the Web.

That gave me time to consult legal experts, read Kansas Supreme Court decisions and hear Wilbert explain his reasoning at Tuesday's televised proceedings.

And guess what? Despite the continuing hysterical fears from abortion-rights groups, Wilbert is doing exactly what you'd expect from a judge in such a sensitive case.

He's being careful.

To read the complete column, visit

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