Authorities said that in April 2014, Miller killed William Corporon, 69, and his grandson, Reat Underwood, 14, outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan. A short time later, police say, he fatally shot Terri LaManno, 53, in the parking lot of Village Shalom, a nearby retirement community. None of the victims were Jewish.
Friends and relatives of Corporon and Underwood filled two rows of seats in the courtroom. It was the first time any of them had attended the proceedings.
Miller, 74, from Aurora, Mo., a small town about three hours south of Kansas City, Mo., had opted to represent himself during the six-day trial, leading to bizarre outbursts that continued Monday.
After hearing the verdict, Miller gave a Nazi salute and said, “Sieg heil. Heil Hitler.” As the jury left the courtroom, he told them, “Y’all ruined my day. I probably won’t sleep tonight.”
He was also found guilty of first degree premeditated murder against Paul Temme, Mark Brodkey and James Coombes, guilty of aggravated assault against Margaret Hunker and guilty of criminal discharge of a firearm into an occupied building.
On Tuesday morning, the trial’s penalty phase will get underway. Capital murder carries a sentence of either life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The same jury will again hear evidence from the prosecution and defense before being charged with reaching a second verdict, this time on Miller’s sentencing.
After the jury left the courtroom Monday afternoon, Miller continued to comment and interrupt as Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan was trying to give instructions for the next phase of the trial. Ryan called for a recess and had Miller removed for the second time Monday.
The first removal occurred late in the morning after Miller said, “I hate every damned one of you whores of Jews” as the two sides hammered out jury instructions, a contentious process that took three hours.
Miller had submitted 17 instructions, none of which was accepted by Ryan, who said there was no basis in law for them. One instruction stated that Miller should be found not guilty if it was more important to the Department of Homeland Security that he remain free.
Miller had rarely voiced objections during the prosecution’s presentation of its case, but he objected repeatedly to their proposed instructions for the jury.
Regarding the instruction that a homicidal act carry the same consequences even if the victim is not the intended target, Miller objected, citing that the Revolutionary War had unintended victims.
“A lot of people were killed accidentally,” he said. “Are you telling them that George Washington should have been held responsible?”
In his closing argument, Johnson County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Howe reminded the jury of “the mountain of evidence” linking Miller to the charges. Forensics proved the two shotguns, rifle and revolver found in Miller’s vehicle had been fired at the scenes, DNA showed tissue from Corporon on Miller’s clothes and the trunk of his car, eyewitnesses put him at the scene, and videotape surveillance showed his vehicle in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center.
Miller objected to Howe saying that Miller wanted to “kill as many people as possible.”
“I wanted to kill Jews, not people,” Miller said.
In his closing remarks to the jury, Miller said he was willing “to die alone in a cage – a martyr” for his actions last year, but he asked instead that they “stand up for our people” and find him not guilty.
He explained that he had fought against the “Jewish genocide of the white race” since 1967, trying to work peacefully through the system by running for office five times, establishing the largest white supremacy party in the United States, and self-publishing a book in 1999.
Prosecutors objected several times during Miller’s closing argument, citing relevance as Miller veered off-topic about black people and inner school systems, abortion and even the causes of World War II.
He compared himself frequently to George Washington. “Our forefathers started a revolution” for much less, he explained. “You can become a man or woman your forefathers would be proud of.”
Miller, who has never denied being the shooter, described the “overpowering joy and exhilaration” he felt after the killings. “I felt like a ton of bricks had lifted from my shoulders and for the first time in 48 years, I felt, free, free, free,” he said.
If the jury found him not guilty, he promised they, too, would “feel free, free, free” and experience that same exhilaration.
Miller used a white board to write, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.” He reiterated that he did what he did at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom “for our people and the future of white children.” He insisted he did not “steal” or “cheat.”
Steve Howe, the prosecuting attorney, said that Miller had stolen. Howe said the gunman stole “the lives of William Corporon, Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno.”
Reese is a freelance writer.