BUFFALO - A man serving time in a state prison for the sniper-shooting death of a doctor was convicted yesterday on a federal charge of targeting and killing the man because he provided abortions.
The jury deliberated about four hours over two days before deciding James Kopp violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in the 1998 slaying of Barnett Slepian.
Kopp, who represented himself during the two-week trial, tried to convince jurors during his closing arguments that he did not mean to kill Slepian when he fired from woods into the doctor's Amherst home. Kopp said he intended only to wound him to prevent him from performing abortions the next day.
"If it happened the way I wanted it to, he would have his arm in a sling," said Kopp, who is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Mehltretter argued that Kopp's long and careful planning of the shooting and his choice of weapon - a Russian military assault rifle - proved his deadly intent.
"If you want to injure a person, you don't shoot them with a high-powered rifle," Mehltretter said.
Kopp fled to Mexico, Ireland and France, where he was captured in March 2001. He had been added to the FBI's list of the Ten Most Wanted fugitives in June 1999.