Anti-Abortion Murderer Convicted of Violating of Federal Clinic Access Law

Imprisoned anti-abortion extremist James Kopp was convicted Thursday of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by shooting and killing an abortion provider in 1998.

A U.S. District Court jury deliberated about four hours over two days before returning the verdict following a two-week trial.

Kopp, 52, already serving a 25-year-to-life sentence on a state murder conviction for Dr. Barnett Slepian's death, was found guilty in federal court of targeting and killing Slepian because he provided abortions.

The jury also convicted him on a weapons count.

He could face life in prison without parole when he is sentenced.

The soft-spoken and studious looking abortion foe known as "Atomic Dog" among his peers, stood with a half-smile as the verdict was read and asked the judge to poll each juror for their decision.

On Wednesday, Kopp, who represented himself, tried to convince jurors during his closing arguments that he didn't mean to kill Slepian when he fired from woods into the doctor's Amherst home. Kopp said he intended only to wound Slepian to prevent him from performing abortions the next day.

"If it happened the way I wanted it to, he would have his arm in a sling," said Kopp, 52, who is suspected in the non-fatal shootings of three Canadian doctors and one in Rochester.

"That is what he says now," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Mehltretter said. The prosecutor said Kopp's long and careful planning of the shooting and his choice of weapon — a Russian military assault rifle — proved his deadly intent.

"If you want to injure a person, you don't shoot them with a high-powered rifle," Mehltretter said.

After the Oct. 23, 1998, shooting, Kopp fled to Mexico, Ireland and finally France, where he was captured in March 2001. He was added — along with Osama bin Laden — to the FBI's list of the Ten Most Wanted fugitives in June 1999.