The trial of James Kopp for
the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian is set to begin
on March 17 in Buffalo, NY. Kopp has admitted to killing
Dr. Slepian, but claims he only meant to wound him
to stop him from performing abortions.
On the January 22 anniversary of
the Roe v. Wade court decision legalizing
abortion, Kopp's circle of committed abortion foes,
members of a group who call themselves the "Army
of God," traveled to Buffalo to demonstrate in
support of Kopp. A message was posted on anti-abortion
Web sites beforehand: "Forces are being deployed
with the power to stop any child of God from being
legally slaughtered in Buffalo, N.Y., on Jan. 22,
2003." The letter was signed, "Commander
in Chief, Army of God, USA."
The group's rally in Buffalo was
in place of the annual White Rose Banquet, which honors
those imprisoned for acts of violence against abortion
providers. It is usually held in Bowie, Maryland,
around a day of anti-Roe demonstrations in Washington,
Michael Bray, a pastor and convicted
arsonist, said at a press conference in Buffalo, "We
honor tonight James Kopp," and maintained that
the jury should acquit Kopp on the grounds of "justifiable
homicide." "We call upon authorities to
release those who are unjustly imprisoned for defending
the innocent," he said, "and execute those
who commit abortion."
Organizing Kopp's sympathizers in
Buffalo was Army of God spokesperson Jonathan O'Toole
of Kansas, who used AOG's Web site to summon other
anti-abortion extremists to show support for Kopp
on the Roe anniversary date and during the upcoming
trial: "Make no mistake about it," he wrote,
"you're either on Jim's side or on the side of
Others in Buffalo were Bob Lokey,
featured in the 1998 HBO documentary Soldiers
in the Army of God where he recounts how he circumcised
himself upon becoming a Christian while serving 20
years in prison for murder; and Donald Spitz, director
of Pro-Life Virginia. After Dr. Slepian's murder,
Spitz appeared on radio and TV condoning the killing.
On one radio talk show he said, "What would you
rather have, 50 million dead babies or 250 dead abortionists?"
In an open message to future jurors
in Kopp's trial, O'Toole said, "Be fearful as
you make this decision because God will protect the
lives of these unborn babies." He also said that
Kopp had "given Buffalo a golden opportunity
to turn this nation around."
Defense attorney Bruce Barker has
said, "This trial has the potential to be historic.
It can be a turning point in the way the country views
"Factually there's no dispute,"
said Barker. "We know what happened, but what
is in dispute is the morality of abortion. Those individuals
[on the jury] are going to get a chance to vote on
Prosecutors say they expect
400 to 500 potential jurors will be surveyed about
their views on abortion and knowledge of the case.