Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Suspect admits to Tiller murder, will attempt necessity defense
The Associated Press has reported that Scott Roeder has confessed to the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller and plans to go forward with a legal defense promoted by Des Moines anti-abortion activist Dave Leach.
Leach has been pressing Roeder for months to use the so-called “necessity defense,” claiming even if he is found guilty it would open the door for future use of the legal maneuver to defend actions against abortion providers. In August, Leach drafted a legal brief for Roeder using that argument, which says a crime may be permissible if it is committed in order to avoid a much greater harm.
Leach produced a series of videos explaining why he believes the necessity defense is so important. The videos feature two young girls, surrounded by stuffed animals and pretending to be reporters, interviewing Leach about whether a “pro-lifer can shoot an abortionist and still get a trial of the only contested issue in the case by jury.” Leach’s hope is that by confessing to the all the facts of the case, including the murder itself, the judge will be forced to allow the jury to hear arguments on the necessity defense.
Leach even organized an online auction with the goal of hiring an attorney willing to argue that defense.
Judges across the country have uniformly rejected that argument, saying that since abortion is legal it is protected by law. Margaret Raymond, a law professor at the University of Iowa who previously practiced as a criminal defense attorney, told the Iowa Independent in August that the likelihood of a judge allowing this defense quite small.
“Typically, you don’t get to use that defense in murder cases,” she said at the time. “The problem with a necessity defense in this case is that it is hard to say that something that the law permits is an act that must be prohibited at the cost of death.”
Raymond says the argument could prove problematic for Roeder, since it involves confessing to a crime.
Leach could not be reached for comment.