Man charged in Jewish site killings sought to explain motive
Olathe A white supremacist wanted to explain to jurors Monday his motive for killing three people at Jewish sites in Overland Park but a judge told him the first phase of the capital murder trial was to focus solely on whether he committed the crimes — not why.
Frazier Glenn Miller, who is representing himself, made it only a few words into the first sentence of his opening statement before assistant District Attorney Chris McMullin objected and jurors were removed from the courtroom.
Miller, 74, of Aurora, Mo., had told Johnson County Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan earlier that he twice offered to plead guilty to first-degree murder if prosecutors would take the death penalty off the table, but they refused. He started to tell jurors of those failed offers before McMullin spoke up.
"If he wants to confess, that's fine, but we can't talk about things not in evidence," the prosecutor said after jurors left the room. "If the state said that, there would be an immediate mistrial. We don't want a mistrial."
At multiple hearings leading up to the trial, Miller has admitted that he killed William Corporon, 69, and Corporon's 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, and Terri LaManno, 53, at the nearby Village Shalom retirement center on April 13, 2014. All of the victims were Christian.
The prosecutor began his opening statement with what he said was a quote from Miller as he was sitting in a police car in a parking lot where he was found shortly after the shootings:
"My name's Glenn Miller, I am an anti-Semite, I hate goddamned Jews. How many did I get?"
McMullin graphically described the wounds Corporon and Underwood suffered as they were hit in the head with shotgun blasts at point-blank range. He spoke of LaManno being frozen in fear as Miller pulled a shotgun from the trunk of his car after a different gun failed to fire.
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., has said he is suffering from chronic emphysema and wanted to kill Jewish people before he died. He also has said he didn't know all three of the victims were Christians, or that the teenage victim was so young.
He argued that if he couldn't convince jurors he had a valid reason for his actions, there was no way he would be acquitted. Ryan responded that the present phase of the trial was not the place to present evidence of his intentions, but was to determine whether he committed capital murder.
Ryan also told Miller he couldn't present to jurors his belief that the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve are controlled by Jews, or argue that Jewish people are committing genocide against the white race.
"You are telling me that I don't have a chance at all of being found not guilty?" Miller said. "I want to present my defense and explain why I did what I did."
Ryan warned Miller that he was risking a mistrial if he persisted in ignoring the court's demand to stick with evidence of guilt or innocence.
Miller, who has no formal legal training or significant courtroom experience, fired his three defense attorneys in May. If convicted he could be sentenced to death.
More like this story
- The Latest on Jewish shootings: Jury weighing death sentence
- Jury to weigh death sentence for man in Jewish site killings
- Survivors of Jewish sites shooting victims plan remembrance
- Man convicted in Jewish site killings is sentenced to death
- Death penalty in white supremacist case a tricky proposition