- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) An anti-abortion extremist who said he only meant to wound an abortion provider was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder for the 1998 sniper slaying of the doctor.
James Kopp, 48, was found guilty of intentionally killing the doctor, who was struck by a single bullet fired from a high-powered rifle through a window of his suburban Amherst home.
After the verdict was read, Kopp, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, smiled at his attorney. "Jim and I were disappointed by the verdict but not shocked by it," said his lawyer, Bruce Barket.
Prosecutor Joseph Marusak said: "We believe justice has been served."
Judge Michael D'Amico issued the verdict, one day after he heard the case without a jury during an unusual single court session. Kopp waived his right to a jury trial last week.
Mr. Barket said he and Kopp still believe forgoing a jury trial was the right strategy.
The judge set sentencing for May 9. Kopp faces a minimum of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life.
Instead of hearing testimony, the judge was presented with a 35-page list of facts agreed to by both sides including an admission by Kopp that he fired the shot that struck Dr. Barnett Slepian. The judge then heard attorneys' arguments.
In arguing for acquittal, Mr. Barket said Kopp believed in the use of force to prevent abortions, but meant only to wound the obstetrician to prevent him from performing abortions.
Mr. Marusak said every step Kopp took in planning for the attack, including his choice of weapon and the use of aliases in buying the rifle, pointed to an intention to kill.
In a procedural move, the judge dismissed another charge against Kopp of intentional murder with depraved indifference to human life.
Kopp was lying in wait for Dr. Slepian, 52, as the doctor returned home with his wife and four sons from a memorial service for his father.
Dr. Slepian was struck through a kitchen window as he heated soup.
Shortly after the shooting, Kopp fled to Mexico and then Ireland. He was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives until his capture in France in 2001.
Yesterday's verdict has no effect on Kopp's upcoming federal trial on a charge of interfering with the right to an abortion related to the Slepian shooting. A status hearing in that case was scheduled for tomorrow.
Kopp is also a suspect in the nonfatal shootings of four other abortion providers in Canada and Rochester, N.Y., between 1994 and 1997. He is charged in one of the Canadian shootings.

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