by Cliff Judy (WICHITA, Kan.)
Scott Roeder will take the stand in his own defense on Thursday, and attorneys may hand the murder trial over to jurors by the weekend.
Roeder has admitted to killing Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller while Tiller served as an usher at his east Wichita church. Roeder is charged with first degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
Prosecutors likely called their last witness Wednesday morning, but some of the most significant activity of the day may have come during the afternoon.
Judge Warren Wilbert and attorneys exchanged tense words as they argued over what jurors will be allowed to hear when Scott Roeder takes the stand. Prosecutors want a straight-forward murder trial with little mention of abortion, and they're concerned Roeder's testimony will become a character attack.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston even called allowing Roeder to speak about his abortion views and why he'd acted on an honest belief that the killing was necessary "outrageous."
Defense attorneys want Roeder to be able to explain why he wanted to kill the abortion provider.
Judge Wilbert told attorneys he may not allow all of the witnesses the defense was hoping for, but Roeder will be allowed to testify. Defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to call the prosecutors who brought charges against Tiller a year ago, though the jury determined Tiller was performing legal abortions. Roeder attended that trial.
"Scott Roeder can testify until the cows come home about the trial and what it did to his beliefs, his thought process, how it frustrated him, angered him, and pushed him to the brink to do what he did," said Judge Wilbert, "but Scott Roeder has to do that."
Earlier in the day, prosecutors wrapped up their case by calling in a firearms expert and DNA expert.
The shell casing found next to Tiller's body matched other shells found on property belonging to Roeder's brother. Roeder had done target practice in the days before Tiller's murder, and the firearms expert said the casings found were all fired from the same gun. The gun used to kill Tiller, however, has never been found.
Blood spatters found on Roeder's left shoe when he was arrested matched Tiller.
With Roeder expected to take the stand Thursday and possibly few other witnesses from the defense, jurors are expected to get the case by the end of the week. It's even possible attorneys will give closing arguments late Thursday.
For a detailed account of Wednesday's testimony as it happened and pictures from inside the courtroom, you can click on Eyewitness News Reporter Cliff Judy's interactive blog listed on this page. Cliff will provide a new blog every day of the trial, and Eyewitness News will provide coverage of the Roeder murder trial gavel-to-gavel.