KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — A capital murder trial will begin this week for a Missouri man who claims he was morally obligated to kill three people last year outside two suburban Kansas City Jewish sites.
Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a 74-year-old avowed white supremacist, has publicly acknowledged firing the shots that killed 69-year-old William Corporon; his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood; and 53-year-old Terri LaManno on April 13, 2014, in Johnson County, Kansas. He said he was trying to target Jewish people; he didn’t know that none of the victims was Jewish.
Attorneys expect jury selection, which starts Monday, to take a week and the rest of the trial to last three to four weeks, court administrator Katherine Stocks said.
Already, the pre-trial hearings for Miller have been eventful, with a judge warning that Miller’s frequent outbursts could result in a mistrial if they happen in front of jurors.
Facing a possible death sentence, Miller fired his three court-appointed attorneys in May because he said he didn’t trust them and wanted to speak for himself. Johnson County Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan allowed it, but ordered those lawyers to be stand-by counsel in case Miller is removed from the courtroom. During several lengthy hearings since, Miller has interrupted the judge and made disparaging comments about the court or prosecutors.
The judge also rejected Miller’s “compelling necessity” defense, in which the Aurora, Missouri, man planned to argue that Jewish people were taking over the country and it was his moral duty to stop it.
Ryan compared that to a defense put forth by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist who is serving a life prison sentence for killing abortion provider George Tiller at a Wichita, Kansas, church in May 2009. Roeder’s attorneys argued that he felt it was necessary to kill Tiller in order to save unborn babies, an argument the Kansas Supreme Court rejected late last year.
Also, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe twice turned down offers from Miller to plead guilty to first-degree murder if the death penalty were taken off the table. Howe is under a gag order and declined to say why he didn’t accept Miller’s plea deal in a state that hasn’t executed anyone in 50 years.
Miller, who has chronic emphysema, has told The Associated Press and said in court that he isn’t afraid of the death penalty and wanted to plead guilty to avoid a lengthy trial — as long as he got a chance to state in court why he killed the three victims.