AP 1 Dec 1994 6:08 EST V0364
The Associated Press
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Paul Hill, who offered no defense to charges he murdered an abortion doctor and clinic escort, also has declined to ask a judge to spare his life.
The former minister who contends killing abortion providers is justifiable homicide could be ordered to die in Florida's electric chair when Circuit Judge Frank Bell sentences him next Tuesday on two first-degree murder convictions.
"Your honor, the issues connected with my life or death should be eclipsed by consideration of our unborn neighbors who are being put to death while we speak," Hill told the judge at a presentencing hearing Wednesday.
"Therefore, your honor, rather than appeal to you or plead with you for my life, I'd rather call upon compassionate men to defend the unborn in the same way in which we defend born children."
That was the only statement Hill, representing himself as he did at trial, made at the sentencing hearing. Bell refused to let Hill, 40, of Pensacola, use justifiable homicide as a defense at his trial a month ago.
Special Assistant State Attorney Ray Marky, a death penalty expert from Tallahassee, urged Bell to order Hill's execution. That also was the unanimous recommendation of Hill's jury.
The only other option is life in prison without parole. Bell is not bound by the jury's recommendation but must give it great weight.
Marky also urged maximum sentences of life in prison and 15 years for convictions of attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
The former minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and Orthodox Presbyterian Church was convicted of murdering Dr. John Bayard Britton, 69, of Fernandina Beach and retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Barrett, 74, of Pensacola.
Barrett's wife, June, 69, was wounded. The victims were shot July 29 as they arrived in the Barretts' pickup truck at the Ladies Center, a Pensacola abortion clinic.
Hill also is facing three possible life sentences in federal court in connection with the shootings. He was the first person convicted of violating the new federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act on Oct. 5.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has advanced Hill's sentencing in that case by one week to Friday.
Meanwhile, federal marshals are cutting back protection for at least half of 24 abortion clinics across the nation, which Attorney General Janet Reno ordered after the Hill shootings. However, the marshals will remain posted outside Pensacola's two clinics and one in Melbourne because the threat of violence remains high in those cities.
The other clinic here, Pensacola Women's Medical Services, was the scene of another abortion doctor murder March 10, 1993. Abortion protester Michael Griffin, 32, of Pensacola shot Dr. David Gunn, 47, as the Eufaula, Ala., physician arrived for work. Griffin is serving a life prison term.