Opening statements start Friday in abortion doctor's slaying
Wichita, Kansas (CNN) -- Opening statements are expected to begin Friday morning in Wichita in the murder trial of a man who admits fatally shooting one of four doctors in the United States who performed late-term abortions.
Scott Roeder, 51, has said he justifiably killed Dr. George Tiller while trying to save unborn children. Roeder gunned down the doctor as Tiller served as an usher at Sunday church services in May 2009 in Wichita.
With Roeder's beliefs expected to be the focal point of his defense, the trial could become the next forum in the fierce national debate over abortion rights.
In several media interviews after his arrest, Roeder expressed no remorse over shooting Tiller, saying it prevented the doctor from carrying out abortions at the Women's Health Care Services clinic in Wichita.
Prosecutors have called the defense argument flawed.
"Case law is clear, both in Kansas and nationwide, that the circumstances of this murder do not justify an imperfect self-defense instruction," they have said in court papers.
"The state urges this court to exclude any irrelevant evidence of abortion, the defendant's views on abortion and the character of Dr. Tiller," prosecutors have written.
Tiller was among the most enduring targets of the anti-abortion movement, withstanding several legal challenges and many death threats, including one in 1993 in which he was shot in the arms. His killing sent shock waves through both factions in the abortion debate, with most from the anti-abortion movement condemning Roeder's actions.
Roeder faces life in prison if he's convicted of first-degree murder. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly pointing his gun at two other ushers as he fled the church.
CNN's Emanuella Grinberg and Lena Jakobsson contributed to this report.