List of witnesses grows for Kan. abortion trial

Monday, January 4, 2010 | 4:45 p.m. CST

WICHITA, Kan. — Prosecutors added 10 names to their burgeoning list of witnesses in the upcoming trial of a man accused of killing a prominent abortion provider, including the defendant's brother.

Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert will consider the prosecution's motion filed last week to add to their list of 220 witnesses at a hearing Friday in the case of Scott Roeder, who is accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller at the doctor's Wichita church.

Roeder, 51, is set to go on trial Jan. 11 on charges of premeditated, first-degree murder for the May 31 shooting of Tiller. The Kansas City man is also accused of threatening two ushers who tried to stop him from fleeing.

Jury selection is expected to last a week, followed by about two weeks of trial testimony.

Roeder said in November that he killed Tiller to protect "unborn children." He said he had no regrets for his actions.

During Friday's hearing, Wilbert is expected to rule on whether certain evidence and arguments can be presented at the trial.

Roeder's brother, David Roeder, was the last family member to see him before the shooting, Scott Roeder's ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, said on Monday. She said she didn't know what the two discussed.

David Roeder did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment at his Rossville home.

Lindsey Roeder said she and her 23-year-old son with Scott Roeder, Nicholas, were on an earlier witness list. She said she had no idea what testimony prosecutors might want from her.

"I have been on the list since day one. They said they would most likely subpoena both of us, but it was very unlikely they would use either of us," she said.

Scott Roeder took his son to a movie and dinner two days before the Sunday morning shooting, she said.

"He just wanted the evening to go on and on — it was very unusual," she added.

The government's star witnesses are expected to again be the two ushers whose eyewitness testimony at his July preliminary hearing identified Roeder.

Gary Hoepner, one of those ushers, testified that he and Tiller were chatting at the doughnut table in the church foyer when a man walked through the door, put a gun to Tiller's head and shot him. Another usher, Keith Martin, testified he chased the gunman into the church parking lot, where the man threatened to shoot him before driving away.

Also on the list of witnesses is Susan Archer, a Tunkhannock, Pa., woman who is involved in a custody dispute over a girl Roeder fathered during their brief common law marriage.

Tiller's wife, Jeanne, is also listed as a potential witness. Lee Thompson, the family's attorney, said he had not spoken with her recently and did not know whether she would be called to testify or whether she planned to attend the trial.

Most of the names on the list are law enforcement officials.

Also named as potential witnesses are several anti-abortion activists. Among them is Shelley Shannon, an Oregon woman who shot and wounded Tiller in 1993 and was later convicted in a series of abortion clinic arsons and bombings. Roeder reportedly visited her when she was imprisoned in Topeka.

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