A Kansas jury took 37 minutes to convict Scott Roeder, 51, of first-degree murder in the shooting death of George Tiller, a member of Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kan.
One of the few physicians in the country who performed late-term abortions, Tiller was ushering at his church May 31 when Roeder entered the building and shot him in the head. According to news reports, Roeder testified that he shot Tiller to protect unborn children and had no regrets in doing so. He was also convicted of aggravated assault for pointing his gun at two other parishioners as he tried to leave the scene.
Tiller's family called the verdict "just."
The congregation is praying that houses of worship be places of peace.
"While these proceedings will obviously not bring George back, we trust in the promise of the resurrection and move forward in that hope," Lowell Michelson and Kristin Neitzel, pastors of Reformation, wrote in a statement. "We pray that all places of worship will be sanctuaries — places of reconciliation, peace and hope, setting the pace for a fractured world that so desperately seeks unity with God and one another."
Michelson and Neitzel said the thoughts and prayers on the church's behalf since Tiller's murder "have been a source of strength for us as we navigated the process of restoration."
This is the second high-profile murder trial that has placed a Wichita ELCA congregation in the spotlight. In 2005, members of Christ Lutheran Church were stunned when one of their members, Dennis Rader, was arrested and convicted of being the city's BTK (bind, torture, kill) serial killer.
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