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Anti-Abortion Activist Found Guilty in Attack

March 26, 1994|From Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. — An anti-abortion activist who admitted that she shot a doctor who performs abortions and considered blowing up his clinic was convicted of attempted murder Friday.

The Sedgwick County District Court jury also convicted Rachelle Shannon on one count of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at an employee of Dr. George Tiller, the physician wounded in the Aug. 19, 1993, attack outside his clinic.

The 37-year-old Grants Pass, Ore., woman showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Earlier Friday, Shannon had testified that she considered bombing Tiller's clinic after she learned he was back at work the day after she had wounded him in both arms.

"I'm concerned about innocent, helpless babies being killed by other people who won't stop unless somebody stops them," she said.

Sentencing was set for April 29. She faces approximately seven years in prison if given the maximum sentence for both convictions.

Shannon said she never intended to kill Tiller, testifying that she had practiced with her gun and could have killed him if she had wanted.

But whether she meant to kill Tiller was irrelevant, Shannon said, "because it would have been right either way to try to stop what he's doing."

"If somebody kills George Tiller, I would not assume they did the wrong thing," she said.

Dist. Atty. Nola Foulston argued that Shannon really was trying to kill Tiller.

"And I have to tell you, she's no Annie Oakley," Foulston said in closing arguments. "This is a woman who now wants to take advantage, perhaps, of the fact she's a lousy shot."

Shannon fled the clinic after shooting Tiller and was arrested in Oklahoma City the next day.

She testified that she asked police about her possible bail and Wichita public transportation after her arrest because she was thinking about "doing more" to stop Tiller.

During cross-examination Foulston asked Shannon what she meant by "more." She replied that she wanted to close Tiller's clinic by bombing it.

"And how were you going to do that?" Foulston asked.

"I probably would have had to go out there again and figure it out," she said.

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