WICHITA, Kan. – The convicted killer of a Kansas abortion provider has little sympathy for the family of his victim, comparing them to the relatives of a hit man in a recording posted online.
In his first public comments since his trial for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, Scott Roeder also criticized those who sought to keep the issue of abortion out of the proceedings altogether, saying it was like asserting that the trial for abolitionist John Brown was not about slavery.
"My beliefs were that the lives of unborn children were being taken by abortion," Roeder said in the video posted on YouTube Monday. "How you can keep that out of the trial is beyond me, because that was the one entire motive for the action that was taken."
His 10-minute conversation with abortion opponent Dave Leach is the first in a series recorded last week that will be posted online with Roeder's blessing, Leach told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Roeder, 51, was convicted Jan. 29 of first-degree murder for shooting Dr. George Tiller last May as the doctor served as an usher at his Wichita church. He also was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening two ushers who tried to stop him after the shooting. He will be sentenced March 9.
Roeder told Leach in the phone conversation that he would struggle to summon any sympathy for Tiller's widow and four adult children.
"The fact that George Tiller was involved in the practice that he was, similar to that of a hit man, if you could have sympathy for a hit man's family that is the sympathy I would have," Roeder said. "But every day, George Tiller did not have any sympathy for his victims."
Lee Thompson, attorney for the Tiller family, said he had not heard the recording and would not comment on it.
The recording illustrates an undercurrent of anger among fringe anti-abortion activists against the slain doctor's family, with some saying Jeanne Tiller is as culpable as her husband for the abortions at his clinic.
Roeder told the AP in November it would have been better for Jeanne Tiller to pray and try to convince her husband to stop performing abortions so he wouldn't be at risk.
Hours after Roeder's conviction, anti-abortion activist Donald Spitz criticized Tiller's widow for showing up at the trial each day wearing expensive clothes which he said had been paid for with the blood of unborn children.
Leach said Roeder hoped the YouTube postings would allow him to clarify statements he made during the trial, and respond to charges leveled against him. On the stand, he said he was relieved after he shot Tiller.
"I wanted to expound on the fact that I was relieved the babies were, here in Wichita, no longer dying."
Roeder maintained he did not regret his actions.
"I didn't have any regrets except for maybe the fact that if the law had done what it was supposed to do, and stop Mr. Tiller, he would not have had to come to this conclusion," Roeder said. "The lives of the babies were still being taken, and there had to be action taken to save them."
YouTube did not immediately respond to an e-mail from the AP seeking comment. On the Web site, YouTube says its policy prohibits inappropriate content, such as material that incites others to commit violent acts. Users can flag content they feel is inappropriate and once it is flagged, YouTube reviews the content and removes it from the system within minutes if it violates their guidelines.