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Defendant: I killed doctor to save babies

WICHITA, Kan., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The jury in the Kansas abortion killing trial cannot consider whether Scott Roeder believed he was saving lives by taking Dr. George Tiller's, a judge says.

Judge Warren Wilbert's decision came in late afternoon Thursday, after Roeder testified, The Kansas City Star reported. Roeder described planning the killing, following Tiller to the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita where he was serving as an usher and shooting him.

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"If I didn't do it, babies were going to die the next day," he said.

Roeder's lawyers said before the trial they hoped to convince the jury to convict him of voluntary manslaughter, not murder, on the grounds he had a sincere, if mistaken, belief he was saving lives. Wilbert ruled out a justification defense before trial but said he would wait until he had heard evidence before deciding on manslaughter.

On the witness stand, Roeder said he did not regret Tiller's death. He said he had gone to the church with a gun on three previous occasions but did not find the doctor.

Tiller was one of the few doctors in the country willing to perform third-trimester abortions. He survived an earlier shooting and a number of legal challenges.

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