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Scott Roeder, who fatally shot Tiller in his church seven years ago, can now become eligible for parole in half the time of his original sentence, although it's still unlikely he'll ever leave prison in his lifetime. (Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

The man who killed abortion doctor George Tiller has been given a more lenient sentence of at least 25 years in prison instead of at least 50 years.

Scott Roeder, who fatally shot Tiller in his church seven years ago, can now become eligible for parole in half the time of his original sentence, although it’s still unlikely he’ll ever leave prison in his lifetime. The decision was announced Wednesday in a surprise resentencing hearing.

“I was really shocked about today,” Roeder told the Associated Press after the hearing. “I was glad obviously to hear the sentence reduced, but I was looking forward to being another voice for the unborn — so I was disappointed in that respect.”

Roeder, 58, ambushed Tiller in 2009 while the abortion doctor was serving as an usher in his church in Wichita, Kan. A year later Roeder was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder.

But his original sentence was vacated several years ago when the Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must decide whether to increase punishments. Roeder was set to undergo a new trial lasting several weeks, but District Attorney Marc Bennett asked the judge to instead default Roeder to life in prison with a chance of parole in 25 years.

The murder of Tiller was one of the most high-profile acts of violence against abortion providers ever since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973.

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