Kansas jury recommends death penalty in murder trial of white supremacist
A jury on Tuesday sentenced to death a man convicted of killing three people outside two Jewish centers in Kansas last year.
Allison Long/The Kansas City Star via AP, Pool
A jury recommended the death penalty Tuesday for a white supremacist who fatally shot three people at Jewish sites in Kansas, less than two hours after he told jurors he didn't care what sentence was handed down.
Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 74, was convicted of capital murder by the same jury last week for the April 2014 shootings in suburban Kansas City. The judge overseeing the trial will now decide whether to follow the jury's sentencing recommendation.
"I believe the criminal justice system worked effectively, that the people from the state of Kansas have spoken loud and clear," William LaManno – whose wife, Terri, was among those killed – said after the verdict was read. Tony Corporon, who lost his father and nephew in the shootings, said he'd just "witnessed justice in action."
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe had urged the jury to recommend the death sentence earlier Tuesday during closing arguments in the trial's penalty phase. He showed one of the shotguns used in the shootings, saying Mr. Miller – who had repeatedly admitted to the killings – pointed the gun at 53-year-old Terri LaManno, but the weapon didn't fire.
Howe then grabbed another of Miller's guns to show the jury, saying Mrs. LaManno "begged for her life" before Miller shot her.
"There's no doubt she was terrified. She froze. ... And his response was to brutally kill her," Mr. Howe said. "The defendant's actions are clearly the type of case the death penalty was made for."
Miller shot LaManno at the Village Shalom retirement center in Overland Park shortly after killing 69-year-old William Corporon and Mr. Corporon's 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the nearby Jewish Community Center.
Miller, who represented himself at the trial, gave a rambling, hour-long closing argument earlier Tuesday that touched on the media, white supremacism and his health. He concluded by telling jurors he didn't care what sentence they handed down.
"Frankly my dears, I don't give a damn," he said, later raising his right arm in the Nazi salute, as he did after jurors convicted him. He also gave an obscene gesture to Howe, drawing an admonition from the judge, which were frequent during the trial.
Miller has said he was suffering from chronic emphysema and wanted to kill Jewish people before he died. None of the victims was Jewish.
His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 10, and the judge reminded him he had the right to appeal. Lawyers who were on hand to assist Miller during the trial left the courtroom without commenting. Miller was removed from the courtroom after the verdict was read.
"Hopefully this verdict and completion of the trial will allow those impacted to begin healing," Howe said in a prepared statement after the hearing. The prosecutor said the jury "spoke for our community regarding the tragic events of April 13, 2014."
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., is a Vietnam War veteran who founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in his native North Carolina and later the White Patriot Party. He also ran for the U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010 in Missouri, each time espousing a white-power platform.
If the judge agrees with the jury's recommendation, it's unclear if the death penalty would be carried out in Miller's case. A doctor testified during the trial that Miller was ill and likely had only five to six years to live. Also, Kansas hasn't executed a death row inmate in decades.