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Suspect in N.Y. abortion doctor killing arrested

James Kopp in 1997  

From Kelli Arena

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- James Charles Kopp, a fugitive on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, indicted in the killing of an abortion doctor in western New York, has been arrested.

Kopp, 46, was arrested Thursday in the Brittany area of France by police in the Rennes district, said a spokesman for the Central Directorate Judicial Police. He gave no further details.

Kopp was indicted by an Erie County, New York, grand jury on June 24, 1999 in the shooting death of Dr. Barnett Slepian at his home in East Amherst, New York, on October 23, 1998. Two weeks earlier, Kopp was added to the FBI's list.

Kopp was also wanted under a federal warrant for violating the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances act for use of deadly force against an abortion provider. That charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison, as well as a maximum $250,000 fine.

Federal Access to Clinic Entrances act (from Cornell)

The grand jury returned indictments against Kopp on three charges -- murder in the second degree, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.

Kopp faces a maximum penalty of life in prison on the murder charge, and a maximum of seven years on each of the other two.

Slepian was killed at his home in East Amherst, felled by a single bullet fired from the woods behind his house and into a kitchen window.

Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998  

Officials had been seeking Kopp, a radical abortion protester, since the killing. His 1987 black Chevrolet Cavalier had been spotted in Slepian's neighborhood in the weeks before the 52-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist was slain.

Two months after the killing, a police officer found the car at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, where one investigator said it had been parked for an "unusually long time."

Kopp, of St. Albans, Vermont, had been arrested several times since 1990 -- in several states -- on a variety of charges stemming from abortion protests.

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Car found in abortion-provider killing
December 23, 1998

Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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