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Abortion Arsonist’s Attack Was Malicious

CHICAGO (CN) - An arsonist who lit an abortion clinic on fire was properly convicted of "maliciously" damaging Planned Parenthood's property, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Francis Grady broke the window of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Grand Chute, Wisc. on April Fools Day 2012, poured a plastic bottle full of gasoline through the hole and set it on fire.

The fire caused considerable damage to the building, and all services had to be canceled the next day.

He was convicted of arson and intentionally damaging the property of a facility providing reproductive health services, after a friend tipped the police that Grady talked about wanting to blow up the clinic.

On appeal, Grady challenged the district court's definition of the term "maliciously" in the jury instructions.

Arson is defined in Wisconsin as "maliciously damag[ing] or destroy[ing], or attempt[ing] to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce."

The 7th Circuit dismissed Grady's challenge on Friday: "The instruction told the jury that Grady acted 'maliciously' if he acted intentionally or with deliberate disregard of the likelihood that damage or injury would result in setting the fire at the Planned Parenthood facility. This allowed the jury to properly weigh the intent of Grady in starting the fire. We find no error by the district court in applying this definition," Judge Michael Kanne wrote for the three-judge panel.

Grady claimed that the "malicious" instruction should have included the phrase "without just cause or reason."

But "Grady has failed to point to any cognizable legal justification for starting the fire at the Planned Parenthood facility," so there is no legal basis to include the phrase, the 6-page opinion states.

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