Courts & Crime

Abortion backers bemoan prosecutor's failure to ask Roeder for names

WICHITA, Kan. — Vicki Saporta listened as Scott Roeder talked about the friends he had who supported the killing of abortion doctors, as the district attorney cross-examined him Thursday afternoon.

"I just wish she'd have gone a little farther and asked him who they were," said Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. "It was a golden opportunity we haven't seen in years."

Saporta leads a non-profit organization that represents hospitals, doctors and clinics across the country who provide health care for women, including abortions. Saporta and others, such as the Feminist Majority, have been pushing federal authorities to investigate the possibility that others encourage the killing of doctors, such as Wichita's George Tiller.

“They encourage each other and help each other in various manners,” Saporta said. “Some of them are in this courtroom.”

Many of the people Saporta saw in the courtroom this week in Wichita, she said she'd seen before during the Florida trial of Paul Hill, who was convicted and eventually executed for killing a doctor who performed abortions.

Among those Saporta knows well is David Leach of Des Moines, Iowa, who once published a manual on the “Army of God.” Leach said outside the courtroom that he had known Roeder since 1998.

“I had about 150 or 200 supporters, and when I was traveling the country, I would stop and see them in they lived nearby,” Leach said. “I was near Topeka, so I stopped and talked to Scott.”

Leach said he remembered talking to Roeder about the killing of abortion doctors, but “not very much.” Leach said he had videotaped their conversation for a local cable access television show he had at the time. “But I haven’t watched it lately.”

The prosecutor in the case, however, was not trying to make a conspiracy case. She was trying to make a case for first-degree murder, which she apparently did in her cross examination of Roeder, getting him to reveal details of how he stalked Tiller literally for years before killing him last May.

If anything other charges come from Tiller’s killing, it will be up to federal authorities.

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