Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. - Psalm 27:14

Paul Hill Murders Dr. John Britton

Paul Hill Murders Dr. John Britton

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Death Penalty

On November 27, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Paul Hill. The justices did not agree at Hill's appeal that he was not given a fair trial.

Hill represented himself in his defense and, having been warned adequately of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, the justices concluded that he did receive a fair trial.

Another issue that the state's high court agreed was that legal abortion could not be used to invoke a necessity defense. Hill contended that the killings were justifiable in order to stop abortion. The justices said such thinking would be an invitation for lawlessness.

[12/2/96 - Abortion Report]

FL Supreme Court Disallows Self-Representation

On June 22nd, the Florida Supreme Court in a unanimous decision refused to allow Paul Hill to defend himself on his appeal of his death sentence. (In July, 1994, Hill shot and killed Dr. John Britton and his escort Jim Barrett at The Ladies Center in Pensacola. The court justices concurred with FL Circuit Court Judge Elzie Sanders that Hill is competent. They also agreed that despite his right to self-representation at his trial, he could not do so in an appeal.

Nancy Daniels will act as Hill's attorney.

[6/23/95 - Abortion Report]

Hill Wants to Represent Himself at Appeal of His Death Sentence

Paul Hill, the man who was convicted of the murders of abortionist Dr. John Britton and his escort Jim Barrett, appeared before Florida Clief Circuit Judge Elzie Sanders on May 16th to determine whether he will be able to defend himself at his upcoming appeal.

"I have a God-given right to self-representation. The court should recognize it," Hill said. Prior to the appeal he waived his right to counsel.

Assistant AG Richard Martell said the state had no opinion on Hill's request.

A Supreme Court clerk commented "that he could not recall the FL high court ever allowing a death-row inmate to serve as his/her own attorney."

[5/17/95 - Abortion Report]

Hill Can Represent Himself at Appeal of His Death Sentence

Paul Hill, the man who was sentenced to death for the murders of abortionist Dr. John Britton and his escort Jim Barrett, should be allowed to defend himself at his automatic appeal. Florida Circuit Judge Elzie Sanders recommended on May 24th that "the Florida Supreme Court discharge the public defender's office and accept Hill's motion." The judge added that the public defender should still act as "next friend of the court" or appoint a private attorney if a conflict should arise between Hill and the public defender.

A date has not been set when the Florida high court will act on the recommendation.

[5/17/95 - Abortion Report]

Paul Hill Sentenced to Death for Murders

Paul Hill was sentenced this morning to die in the electric chair for the fatal shootings of abortionist John Britton and his escort, James Barrett. In addition, he was sentenced to just over 13 years for the attempted murder of Barrett's wife, June.

The sentence was rendered by Circuit Judge Frank Bell. "Hill showed no emotion as the verdict was read and said that he would not appeal the decision." (Under Florida law, however, an automatic appeal is granted.)

Last week, Hill received a federal sentence for the violation of FACE -- life in prison without parole. However, today's state sentence take precedence over the federal sentencing.

[12/6/94 - Abortion Report]

Hill Guilty in Federal Clinic Access Case

A federal jury found Paul Hill guilty on October 5th of violating the FACE law for the murder of Florida abortionist John Britton and his bodyguard, James Barrett. He was also convicted of a federal firearm charge. The jury deliberated just over two hours before convicting the former minister. Hill faces life imprisonment on the charges. Sentencing is scheduled for December 9th. He is now awaiting trial in state court on murder and attempted murder charges that could get him the death penalty. That trial will begin on January 30, 1995.

Hill served as his own attorney but called no witnesses, failed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and presented no evidence. During the reading of the guilty verdict Hill showed no emotion.

[10/6/94 - Milwaukee Sentinel]

Hill Convicted of Noise Charge, Acquitted of Disorderly Conduct

Following a one-day trial, Paul Hill was convicted in Escambia County court on September 20thof a Pensacola, Florida noise ordinance violation. He was acquitted of disorderly conduct.

The conviction drew a 45-day jail term which Hill immediately began serving. An appeal is expected.

A six-juror panel heard the case before rendering its decision.

[9/21/94 - Abortion Report]

FACE Charges Will Stay Against Alleged Murderer

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson declined to dismiss charges of violation of FACE and federal firearms laws against Paul Hill. Hill's attorney, Roderick Vereen (actor Ben Vereen's nephew) argued unsuccessfully that Congress "lacked authority to pass FACE because abortion violence could not be considered interstate commerce."

The judge's decision was rendered on September 15th.

[9/16/94 - Abortion Report]

Judge Will Not Dismiss Disorderly Conduct, Noise Charges

Escambia Co. Judge Thomas Johnson upheld misdemeanor disorderly conduct and noise charges against Paul Hill, the allegedly killer of a Florida abortionist and his escort. The charges stem from his arrest on June 17th outside the Pensacola Ladies Center, the same clinic where the murders took place. The date of the trial was set by Judge Johnson for September 19th.

Hill's additional trial dates have also been set: October 3rd in U.S. District Court on charges of violation of FACE; January 30, 1995, in State court on first-degree murder charges.

[8/31/94 - Abortion Report]

Hill Pleads Innocence to FACE Charge

Paul Hill who allegedly murdered an abortionist and his escort pleaded not guilty on August 15th to federal charge of violation of FACE. Hill is charged with three counts under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) law as well as two counts of first-degree murder.

Upon acceptance of the plea, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson set trial for October 3rd. Assistant U.S. Public Defender Roderick Vereen will represent Hill on the federal charge.

Hill reluctantly accepted Vereen as legal counsel having expressed a desire to defend himself.

[8/16/94 - Abortion Report]

Paul Hill is Indicted on Two First-Degree Murder Counts

Paul Hill was indicted by a grand jury on August 9th on two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted of the charges, he could face the death penalty.

Florida Assistant Public Defender Earl Loveless is representing Hill.

Besides the murder charges, Hill also faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and violation of a city noise ordinance after allegedly shouting at patients on June 17th outside the Ladies Center.

[8/10/94 - Abortion Report]

Militant Protester Kills Abortionist and Escort; Injures Another

Paul Hill, a militant protester who openly advocated violence, allegedly shot an abortionist and two volunteer security guards outside a Pensacola abortion clinic on Friday, July 29th.

Dr. John Britton and James Barrett were fatally shot at the Ladies Center for Abortion. Britton, Barrett, and Barrett's wife, June, were sitting in a pick-up truck outside the clinic. The gunman approached the vehicle and "opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun." Both men were shot in the head. Dr. Britton had been wearing a bulletproof vest. June Barrett was injured in the arm and is expected to recover.

Hill was arrested shortly after the shooting as he ran from the abortion clinic's parking lot. He was held without bail and faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Charges may also be brought against him under federal law.

Hill is founder of Defensive Action, a militant group advocating violence in defending the unborn. He served as a minister for the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church but was excommunicated for his radical views. In an interview this year he said, "If an abortionist is about to violently take an innocent person's life, you are entirely morally justified in trying to prevent him from taking that life."

Mainstream pro-life groups are denouncing Hill's actions.

The doctor is the second to be killed in Pensacola. Last year, Dr. David Gunn was shot to death outside the Pensacola Women's Medical Services. Michael Griffin is serving a life term for the murder.

[7/30/94 - Milwaukee Journal]

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