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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 March, 2003, 12:26 GMT
Anti-abortionist guilty of murder

By Emma Simpson
BBC New York correspondent

James Kopp (R) with his lawyer
In a surprise move, Kopp (right) waived his right to trial by jury
An anti-abortion activist in the United States has been convicted of murdering a doctor who provided abortions to his patients.

James Kopp was the subject of an international manhunt after he shot obstetrician Dr Barnett Slepian four years ago in New York State.

He was eventually arrested in France and now faces up to life in prison.

James Kopp's defence team initially hoped this trial would turn into a debate on abortion, but in a surprise switch in legal strategy, Kopp waived his right to a trial by jury.

By opting for a trial by judge, he gave up the right to testify or call witnesses.

In the end, the trial only lasted two days.

The judge was presented with a long list of facts, agreed to by both sides.

Single shot

Kopp, a militant anti-abortionist, shot Dr Slepian with a single bullet from a high-powered rifle while the doctor was in his kitchen with his family.

He then spent the next two and a half years on the run from police.

Kopp admitted shooting Dr Slepian, but his lawyers sought an acquittal arguing that their client only meant to wound the doctor to prevent him performing abortions.

However, prosecutors said his conduct amounted to religious terrorism.

Dr Slepian's widow was present to hear the judge find James Kopp guilty of murder.

He will be sentenced in May.




SEE ALSO:
Anti-abortion murder trial opens
04 Mar 03 |  Americas
Anti-abortionist sent for US trial
05 Jun 02 |  Americas
US abortion doctor shot dead
25 Oct 98 |  Americas



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