At Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors asked the judge to prevent Roeder from making that argument because it required Roeder to believe that Tiller presented an imminent threat to fetuses, and clearly no such threat existed: Roeder gunned down the doctor while he was at church, not at his clinic.
The jury should only consider whether Roeder's actions were premeditated, the prosecutors said.
But defense lawyers countered that it did not matter how clear the absence of an imminent threat was, because imperfect self-defense by definition requires the killer's belief to be unreasonable. In any case, they argued, the threat was far more than just a fear of future harm to fetuses.
"There was a state-licensed facility operating in Sedgwick County (Kansas) to perform abortions," wrote defense attorney Mark Rudy in papers filed with the court. "It had staff. It had a practitioner (Tiller). It had a budget. ... In the mind of Mr. Roeder, the victim presented a clear danger to unborn children."
Jury selection in Roeder's trial is scheduled to begin today.