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Suspect in abortion provider death talks from jail

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WICHITA, Kan. — The man accused of killing Kansas abortion provider George Tiller said Thursday from the county jail where he is being held that he's "being treated as a criminal" even though he hasn't been convicted.

In a brief telephone conversation with The Associated Press, Scott Roeder also disputed what he called "broad brush" characterizations of him as being anti-government.

"I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government, it is anti-corrupt government," Roeder, who called from the Sedgwick County Jail in response to a written request for an interview.

The 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo. man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Tiller with a single gunshot as the doctor handed out programs Sunday while ushering at the Lutheran church he attended in Wichita. Roeder also is accused of assaulting two witnesses before leaving the church and driving away. He was arrested a few hours later.

When asked by the AP to discuss the Tiller shooting, Roeder refused to comment, saying he would talk about that later.

"I haven't been convicted of anything, and I am being treated as a criminal," he said after calling the AP. The telephone conversation lasted about three minutes.

Roeder said he is concerned about the media attention his family, particularly his elderly mother, was getting following his arrest.

"I appreciate your prayers," said Roeder, who has a preliminary court hearing scheduled for June 16. District Judge Warren Wilbert set Roeder's bond on Thursday at $5 million, reversing an earlier ruling to deny bond.

Dan Monnat, the Tiller family attorney, declined comment on Roeder's statements.

If convicted on the murder charge, Roeder would face a mandatory life sentence and would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.

Hundreds of people are expected at Tiller's funeral on Saturday. The late-term abortion provider and his Wichita clinic were a regular target of anti-abortion protests, including the 45-day "Summer of Mercy" event staged by Operation Rescue in 1991. His clinic was damaged by a pipe bomb in 1986, and a protester shot at him in 1993, wounding his arms.

Roeder's former wife, Lindsey Roeder, has said her ex-husband's family life began unraveling more 10 years ago when he got involved in anti-government groups and became a staunch abortion opponent. The two divorced in 1996 and have one son, now 22.

Roeder's brother, David, also has said he suffered from mental illness at various times in his life.

Around the Web

George Tiller Killed: Abortion Doctor Shot At Church

Scott Roeder: The Tiller Murder Suspect - TIME

A Brief Profile of Scott Roeder - washingtonpost.com

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