Antiabortion extremist James Kopp was convicted of murder March 18 for shooting a doctor who performed abortions.

Judge Michael D'Amico of Erie County Court in New York convicted Kopp, 48, of murdering Barnett Slepian, 52, with an assault rifle. Kopp shot him through a window of the obstetrician-gynecologist's home in October 1998.

The conviction on a state charge of second-degree murder came after a one-day trial on March 17. Kopp had waived his right to a jury trial.

Kopp is also a suspect in four other nonfatal shootings from 1994 to 1997 of doctors who performed abortions. Authorities have charged him in one shooting case in Canada. Kopp also faces a related federal charge of interfering with the right to an abortion.

At his sentencing, scheduled for May 9, Kopp could receive 15 years to life imprisonment. Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark said his office would seek "not a day less" than the maximum sentence.

Kopp's attorney, Bruce Barket, said of the court decision: "Jim and I were disappointed by the verdict but not shocked by it."

Kopp admitted that he fired the shot. He claimed he had only wanted to wound Slepian to prevent him from performing abortions.

After the shooting, Kopp fled to Mexico and then Europe. Until police in France captured him in 2001, Kopp was on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

Marilynn Buckham, executive director of Buffalo GYN Womenservices, where Slepian worked, said the verdict revealed Kopp "to be the cold, calculating, premeditated murderer that he is."

Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, applauded the verdict.

"The violence perpetrated by James Kopp and others represents a rejection of the prolife movement," Connor told Christianity Today. "In my judgment, violence only begets more violence. Such actions work a profound disservice to the prolife community. These people may be antiabortion, but they're not prolife."

Related Elsewhere

Previous related Christianity Today stories include:

Weblog: James Kopp Guilty of Killing Abortion Doctor | Plus: PCUSA top court tries its top officials, and other stories from online sources around the world. (March 19, 2003)
Unjustifiable Homicide | We must think through the reasons for rejecting deadly violence in the abortion struggle. (Nov. 22, 1993)

Other coverage of the verdict includes:

Kopp accomplices plead guilty—CNN (April 16, 2003)
Couple get plea deal for assisting Kopp as fugitiveThe Buffalo News (April 16, 2003)
Antiabortionist guilty of killing doctorThe Washington Post (March 19, 2003)
Kopp guilty verdict no surprise locallyDemocrat and Chronicle (March 19, 2003)

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