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Opening Statements Begin in Scott Roeder's Trial



WICHITA — A youth director at the church where Wichita abortion provider George Tiller went testified about the morning he was shot.


Kathy Wegner would make the 911 call after seeing Tiller fall just after 10 a.m.

Wegner said she and her daughter Allison arrived at the church around 10. She knew that because St. George's Orthodox Church across the street chimed the time.

Kathy and Allison Wegner were trying to set up a table for a youth fundraiser that morning. While carrying the table, Wegner saw Tiller walking out of the sanctuary.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash and heard what sounded like a balloon popping," Wegner testified.

"I saw Dr. Tiller fall flat on his back," she said, breaking into tears.

A man stood over Tiller, still holding a gun. She then saw him run.

11 a.m.

Within minutes, dispatchers had traced the car to Scott Roeder.

Emergency workers arrived and had to wait for police to say that the building was safe and secure before they entered, Diane Gage, director of Sedgwick County communications, testified.

Tiller was pronounced dead at 10:13:07, according to call logs.

10:50 a.m.

The Scott Roeder jury just heard Wegner's 911 call from the church.

"Dr. George Tiller has been shot at Reformation Lutheran Church," a woman's voice is heard.

"Dr. Tiller has been shot?" the operator said.

"Yes!" the woman said, crying. "At Reformation Lutheran."

The caller gave a description of the shooter as a balding man in a white shirt and slacks fleeing the building.

Officers were dispatched at 10:03:41, said Gage.

A minute later, another call came in providing the license plate number of a Ford Taurus, Kansas Tag 225B, heading west on 13th Street.

10:30 a.m.District Attorney Nola Foulston outlined the state's case against Scott Roeder this morning in the killing of Tiller.

Foulston said Tiller and his wife, Jeanne, had just returned from a week's vacation when they went to their church, Reformation Lutheran, the morning of May 31.

Wegner and her daughter Allison had arrived at the church and were setting up tables in the foyer of the church, Foulston said. Wegner saw Tiller walk out of the sanctuary side door.

Foulston said Wegner will testify that she heard the sound of a crack and saw a flash. Tiller fell to the floor and a man ran out. Wegner ran to the church office to call 911 at 10:02:42.

Gary Hoepner and Keith Martin, two other church members, chased the man as he fled from the church, Foulston said. Thornton Anderson, who was arriving late for services, saw the license plate of a car speeding away. He notified police of the Johnson County plates on the Ford Taurus.

Foulston said police tracked the license plate to Roeder's car. Martin and Hoepner identified Roeder from his driver's license photo.

Roeder was arrested at 1:25 p.m. later that day in Johnson County. His tennis shoes had blood splattered on them, Foulston said, which was later shown to belong to Tiller.

At his Kansas City residence, Foulston said FBI agents found a calendar. Pentecost Sunday, May 31, was circled. Investigators also found a box for a new gun, a Taurus .22 handgun. They traced the weapon to Roeder through a Lawrence pawnshop.

"The gun was never recovered," Foulston said, but investigators were able to trace cartridges fired from the weapon to the gun.

Public defender Steve Osburn said the defense would reserve its opening statements until it presented its case.

9:30 a.m.

The morning began with prosecutors asking a judge to disallow a voluntary manslaughter defense.

"It's the wolf in sheep's clothing," Ann Swegle told the judge.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert said it was premature to pre-empt the defense.

"I will vigilantly watch the evidence and try with the best of my ability to make sure the necessity defense doesn't come in through the back door," Wilbert said.

Roeder, 51, said he shot Wichita abortion provider George Tiller on May 31 to protect the unborn.

Under Kansas law, voluntary manslaughter is defined as the "unreasonable belief" that the use of force was necessary.

Jurors were to be sworn in later this morning, and the prosecutors were set to present evidence.

Roeder is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.


SOURCE: http://www.kansas.com/news/tiller/story/1148087.html

If anyone is interested, a local station has online streaming coverage: http://www.ksn.com/mediacenter/local.aspx?videoId=26&navCatId=26

And for Twitter updates, @rsylvester is live Tweeting from the courtroom.
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