Linda Carter said she and Paul Morrison nearly broke off their affair after a heated argument over Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

Morrison was just months into his new job as Kansas attorney general. Carter was his lover and worked with his predecessor at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.

Carter is a major witness in contentions by Tiller’s lawyers that “outrageous conduct” by two of the state’s top prosecutors led to the criminal case against the doctor.

Tiller’s lawyers are trying to persuade Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens to dismiss the case.

During testimony Tuesday in a pretrial hearing for Tiller, who faces 19 misdemeanor charges filed by Morrison, Carter told of the argument that changed their relationship.

Morrison, who resigned after his affair became public, is expected to testify today.

While Carter testified that she and Morrison argued over Tiller, she denied that she was pressured by former Attorney General Phill Kline, who initiated the investigation into Tiller and spent most of Tuesday answering questions.

Carter testified that Kline asked her whether Morrison was “going to do the right thing and charge Tiller.”

“And was that a comment that Phill Kline had made to you before then?” asked Dan Monnat, a lawyer representing Tiller.

“Absolutely not,” Carter said.

Earlier, Kline testified that he had told Carter he hoped Morrison would charge Tiller.

“I do recall her asking: “What do you think that Attorney General Morrison should do?’ ” Kline testified, “And I replied, ‘Do the right thing.’ ”

After the 2006 election, Kline and Morrison essentially switched jobs.

Morrison became attorney general and Kline filled Morrison’s old job as Johnson County district attorney.

Carter still worked as a chief administrator in the Johnson County prosecutor’s office.

Kline said he found out about Carter’s affair with Morrison through an anonymous letter in March 2007. Kline said he dismissed the letter as rumor and gave it to Steve Maxwell, a chief prosecutor who followed Kline from Topeka.

But Kline denied talking to Carter about the relationship until later in the year.

Carter said she and Morrison began their relationship in 2006, and it lasted through most of his campaign for attorney general.

The affair heated up after Morrison took office the following year, Carter said. She testified that Morrison promised to leave his wife and gave her a $16,000 ring.

Carter said she left her husband that January.

Soon afterward, Carter rented an apartment in Lawrence. She said Morrison moved some of his belongings into it and occasionally stayed with her.

By spring, however, Carter said they were arguing about Tiller.

Carter told him she opposed late-term abortions. Tiller is one of the few doctors in the country who will terminate a pregnancy after 22 weeks.

Kansas law allows late-term abortions in situations where carrying the pregnancy to term will endanger the physical or mental health of the mother.

The law requires medical determinations by two doctors.

Carter remembered Morrison saying he hadn’t accepted campaign contributions from Tiller. Carter said Morrison lied about that.

Morrison stormed out after the argument, Carter testified, and she took his belongings and put them in a pile on the floor.

Carter described the relationship as “on-again, off-again” after that.

On June 28, 2007, Morrison filed the charges against Tiller.

Morrison accused Tiller of having an illegal financial relationship with the doctor who provided the second opinions for the late-term abortions.

The Eagle is covering the hearings live via Twitter. Read updates at the blog What the Judge Ate for Breakfast:

Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or [email protected]. All content © 2008 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.

The Wichita Eagle