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Slain abortion provider shot by Ore. woman in 1993

PORTLAND (AP) -- The fatal shooting of abortion provider George Tiller brought Stephen Peifer back to 1993.

It was in August of that year that Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon of Grants Pass shot and wounded Tiller outside his Wichita, Kan., clinic.

"I immediately thought of Shelley Shannon, since this is what she intended to do in 1993," the assistant U.S. attorney told The Oregonian on Monday at his office in Portland's federal courthouse.

Peifer prosecuted Shannon in 1995 on charges stemming from arson and acid attacks at abortion clinics in Oregon, California and Nevada. U.S. District Judge James Redden sentenced Shannon to 20 years in prison.

Shannon, who got 10 years for shooting Tiller, remains in a federal prison in Minnesota. Her earliest possible release date is in 2018.

On Sunday, Tiller, 67, was fatally shot at a Wichita church. Police took Scott Roeder, 51, into custody and he remains in jail on suspicion of murder.

In Wichita, her former defense attorney, E. Jay Greeno, recalled on Tuesday the difficulty of representing a client who wanted to use the case as a platform to express her views and opinions.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, whose office is handling the case against the suspect in Tiller's killing, also prosecuted Shannon in the 1993 Tiller shooting.

Greeno said that Foulston questioned Shannon about what she would have done had she been released on bond. He said Shannon testified that she would "have been back and bombed the place," then looked at Greeno from the witness stand and told him, "Sorry, Jay."

One of Greeno's most vivid memories was hearing his clock radio go off at 5:30 one morning before trial with the newscast running through the day's top stories:

"Shelly Shannon says, 'Yes, I shot George Tiller and I am glad I did it.' I just rolled over and said I do not want to go to work today," Greeno said.

In August 1993, Shannon went to Oklahoma City by bus and then drove a rental car to Wichita. She went up to Tiller outside his clinic and shot him in both arms with a .25-caliber handgun. Police arrested her as she dropped off the rental car.

While jailed in Kansas, Shannon wrote to her daughter, telling her not to dig up her writings. Investigators intercepted the correspondence and found a diary that provided a road map of earlier attacks.

Shannon began her anti-abortion activity with a 1988 Right to Life meeting and then a series of demonstrations at abortion clinics.

In the early 1990s, Shannon began corresponding with prison inmates convicted of firebombing abortion clinics, and read about how to perform such crimes.

In April 1992, acting on behalf of the underground group Army of God, she set a fire at an Ashland clinic. She used fireworks to start a small fire at a Portland clinic later that year and used homemade napalm to ignite fires at clinics in Sacramento and Reno.

Shannon then began to attack clinics with butyric acid, which causes an awful smell. She followed with the firebombing of a Eugene clinic, an acid attack on a clinic in Chico, Calif., and an arson at a Sacramento clinic.

"As 1993 arrived, defendant entered a new phase of zealotry," Peifer wrote in a 1995 sentencing memo. She began to write of her anti-abortion position as a "war" and wrote that hurting people was an acceptable outcome.

"She evolved over time into an extremely dangerous person," Peifer said Monday. "She got to the point where she felt the only alternative was to shoot doctors."


Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com