Rachelle Ranae "Shelley" Shannon (born March 31, 1956) is an anti-abortion activist from Grants Pass, Oregon. She shot George Tiller in both arms outside his abortion clinic in Wichita on August 19, 1993. She is serving her sentence at FCI Waseca in Minnesota. Her projected release date is November 7, 2018.
Attempted murder of George Tiller
At the time she shot Tiller, Shannon had been a part of the anti-abortion movement for at least five years. She had written in support of Michael Griffin, the murderer of David Gunn, calling Griffin "the awesomest, greatest hero of our time." Tiller's Wichita clinic was the site of frequent demonstrations and incidents of direct action by those opposed to abortion and of counter-demonstrations by abortion rights activists. Under cover of such a fracas, Shannon shot Tiller with a semiautomatic pistol.
Trial and imprisonment
At her trial in state court, Shannon testified that there was nothing immoral about trying to kill Tiller. The jurors deliberated for an hour. They convicted her of attempted murder. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
On June 4, 1995, she pleaded guilty to setting fires at several abortion clinics in Oregon, California and Nevada. She had been indicted by federal grand juries on 30 counts in connection with fires and butyric acid attacks at nine clinics. Charges included arson, interference with commerce by force and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. On September 9, 1995, U.S. Federal District Court Judge James A. Redden sentenced Shannon to 20 years in prison--a substantial upward departure from sentencing guidelines. In sentencing her, Redden called her a terrorist. The sentence was set to begin only after Shannon's 10-year incarceration for shooting Tiller is completed.
Her daughter, Angela Shannon (born ca. 1974), was prosecuted for sending a death threat in 1993 to George Woodward, a Milwaukee doctor who performed abortions. (The letter arrived on March 3, 1993 — a week before the murder of David Gunn.) The elder Shannon attempted to take the blame for the death threat, but in view of Angela's fingerprints having been found on the letter, Angela was convicted and sentenced to 46 months' incarceration in 1997.
In 1998, Shelley Shannon filed a lawsuit contending that the sewage system in the Kansas prison was inadequate, and that sewage backups created unhealthful conditions for the inmates. Her lawsuit was dismissed by Federal District Court Judge Kathryn Vratil in Kansas City, Kansas. The dismissal was upheld by a 2-1 vote of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, stating there wasn't sufficient proof the warden knew about the sewer problems. Before Shannon's attorney could refile, the sewer system and other problems were corrected.[dead link]
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- NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. (2006). Clinic violence and intimidation. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Crow, Karen. (August 19, 2005). A Violent Week in August. Choice! Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Federal Bureau of Prisons, Inmate Locator. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
- Harriet Ryan, Court TV, Kopp fifth clinic shooter to face trial, March 11, 2003. Retrieved January 9, 2007.[dead link]
- Time Magazine, The Week March 20-26, April 4, 1994. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
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- The Washington Post, Antiabortion Extremist Indicted in Attacks on Clinics in West , October 25, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- New York Times, Guilty Plea Expected In Fires at Clinics, June 4, 1995. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- New York Times, Woman Gets 20-Year Sentence In Attacks on Abortion Clinics, September 9, 1995. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- Denny Walsh, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, '93 LETTER, Jun 6, 1996. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- FindLaw.com, USA v SHANNON 97-10057. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- Robert Boczkiewicz, The Topeka Capital-Journal, Sewage lawsuit dismissal upheld, Jul 11, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2007.