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Kopp guilty of murdering doctor

James Kopp has been found guilty of murdering doctor Barnett Slepian.

A New York judge has found James Kopp guilty of murder.

Kopp, 48, shot and killed Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo-area doctor in 1998, but claimed he only meant to wound him.

Reaction to the verdict was swift.

Kopp's supporters say they never expected justice, and the doctor's family says there was never any question that Kopp was a murderer.

Kopp was led from a Buffalo courtroom in shackles. He remained silent.

Elizabeth MacDonald, who watched him walk by, is a friend and supporter.

"I wasn't surprised," she said. "I wasn't expecting justice in this court as it would be an acquittal, because this is a justified homicide. But what I think about it is, no matter how long Jim Kopp may spend in jail, Barnett Slepian will never kill again."

Friends and supporters of the Slepian family expressed relief.

Kopp had claimed, as a Catholic, he was driven to shoot Slepian because he provided abortions.

But a prosecutor says the fact Kopp used a high-powered rifle showed he meant to kill the doctor. Kopp also used aliases and lies to hide from the law in Mexico, Ireland and France until he was tracked down.

But women's rights activists say they worry how extremists in the anti-abortion movement will react. They believe Kopp was connected to several shootings of doctors in Canada he's charged in a case involving a Hamilton, Ont.-area doctor and they worry other anti-abortion activists are ready to step up and take over what Kopp was trying to do, in spite of the fact he's now facing up to 25 years in prison.

Kopp will be sentenced on May 9.

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