Scott Roeder was sentenced yesterday to spend, what will probably be the rest of his life, behind bars, for the premeditated murder of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. It took only 37 minutes to convict Scott Roeder of murder in January; it took nine hours Thursday to sentence him. Given the circumstances of the crime and overwhelming evidence of premeditation, a sentence of 50 years without the possibility of parole was widely considered as appropriate, except, of course, by Roeder’s supporters and fellow travelers.
Not only was Roeder unremorseful, but his rambling, self-righteous comments at the time of sentencing suggested that he would do it all over again, given the opportunity. No judge in his or her right mind would grant the possibility of parole under these circumstances, even in Kansas. Roeder’s motives were obvious but perhaps his motivation is less so. Was Roeder protecting babies as he proclaimed, or did he simply relish the role of judge, jury, and executioner?
Roeder also testified that over the years, he’d considered other ways to stop Tiller from performing abortions, including cutting Tiller’s hands off with a sword, ramming Tiller’s car with his own, and taking a sniper shot at Tiller outside his clinic. But he said he ended up choosing to kill Tiller in his church because "it was the only window of opportunity that I saw where he could be stopped."
Roeder, 52, is likely headed for the Lansing Correctional Facility (formerly known as the Kansas State Penitentiary) to spend the rest of his interminably-long days and nights. Chances are that Roeder is in a state of denial and has convinced himself that his belief in the "righteousness" of his act, and the prayers of his supporters will comfort him, and that he will be seen as a martyr. Maybe he is already thinking about writing a book. But his self-delusion will only go so far to drown out the round-the-clock screams of other inmates who have long-ago succumbed to the insanity (stir-crazy) that incarceration inevitably brings about.
Roeder may become a Charles Colson-like figure, and surround himself with other like-minded criminals and convince themselves that they are forgiven in the eyes of Jesus. Fifty years is a long time to spend in a small cell. Roeder and his ilk like to believe that Dr. Tiller went straight to Hell. But I suspect that Mr. Roeder is soon likely to realize that, if prison is not hell, it must certainly be its ante-chamber.
One wonders if Bill O’Reilly will stop by on visiting day and present Mr. Roeder a copy of his next book.