The "Hard 50" sentence requires Roeder, 52, to serve at least 50 years before he can be considered for parole.
"Mr. Roeder chose church ... where one would expect to be safe and let their guard down," Wilbert said. "He intentionally killed Dr. Tiller in the very place that abhors violence — a church.
"Mr. Roeder shot and killed Dr. Tiller at point-blank range and left him bleeding on the floor of the narthex, where everyone exiting the sanctuary could see that horrific scene."
The judge said the total disregard for reverence that should be shown in a house of worship "by itself is heinous, vicious and cruel," which are among the qualifications for a "Hard 50" sentence.
Wilbert also sentenced Roeder to 24 additional months for threatening two men who chased Roeder after he shot Tiller on
Roeder had faced a minimum sentence of life in
prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. He was found
guilty of first-degree murder on
Roeder interrupted the judge several times as he issued the sentence, saying "babies were dying" and "baby-murdering is chaos and anarchy."
As he was escorted out of the courtroom, he shouted at the prosecutors: "The blood of babies are on your hands."
The sentence came after hours of motions and testimony, a parade of character witnesses speaking on behalf of Roeder and a lengthy statement by Roeder during which he described numerous abortion procedures in graphic detail and called Tiller's church a "synagogue of Satan."
Tiller family attorney
"We aren't dealing with free speech or the right of expression with this case," he said. "It is an act of terrorism characterized by boasting and the complete lack of remorse."
Thompson said Tiller was a devoted father and grandfather and a defender of women's rights.
"He gave his life for the rights of women," he said. "The impact of his death on women throughout the world is like an earthquake."
"This individual planned to kill Dr. Tiller as far back as 1993," Foulston said, "stealthily going after him as though he was a partridge in the woods. ... He should be given the longest sentence possible."
"You have no option but to impose a life sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years."
Security was tight in the courthouse Thursday, with
a bomb-sniffing dog brought in to examine all bags and purses,
including those of reporters. Eight
Roeder entered the room dressed in a gray jacket, red tie and dark pants, his ankles in shackles. The judge warned observers that outbursts would not be tolerated and said Roeder's witnesses would be limited to talking about his character and not espousing their views about Tiller and abortion.
Tiller's family members sat with two of their church pastors, clutching tissues and often hugging, holding hands and leaning on one another for support.
Those speaking on behalf of Roeder were
"I have visited with Scott in jail four or five times and have talked with him numerous times on the phone, and from those visits and phone calls I came to believe that Scott acted on his beliefs that abortion is murder of a preborn baby," Frye said.
Dinwiddie told the court that "Scott loved our country and he knew the terror of our Lord regarding the shedding of innocent blood."
Foulston objected to Dinwiddie's comments, asking the judge to dismiss her. Wilbert warned her not to talk about the abortion issue:
"You're now upon your own soap box," he said.
Roeder's defense team brought in a clinical psychologist who evaluated Roeder to testify about his findings.
Roeder began his own statement by talking about the
"victims" of abortion, then read a brochure describing abortion
procedures followed by reading a lengthy excerpt from a book written by
After that, Roeder began talking about what he said was documentation about Foulston's failure to enforce the law when it came to Tiller's practice.
Wilbert shut him down.
"You killed Dr. Tiller," he said. "You're not going to politically assassinate
Then Roeder told Wilbert that "if you were to obey the higher power of God himself, you would acquit me."
Roeder said it was the duty of the state to protect all people, "including those whom
Roeder complained repeatedly he wasn't being allowed to speak: "If this atrocity is ever going to end, this Holocaust, the truth has got to come out."
Afterward, Rudy said the defense will file an appeal.
There's no question that Tiller's death has had an impact on abortions in
Just last week, the
That's one of the reasons
"The murder of Dr.
Now the closest abortion clinics to
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