OLATHE, Kan. – A Kansas jury on Tuesday recommended the death penalty for a 74-year-old white supremacist who killed three people last year during an anti-Semitic shooting spree, less than two hours after he sent off the jurors to deliberate his fate by standing up, saying “Sig heil” and delivering a Nazi salute.
The gesture closed a wild 11-day trial in which Frazier Glenn Miller chose to act as his own attorney, frequently disrupting the proceedings with inappropriate and incriminating outbursts as he defended himself against a charge of capital murder.
“Folks, you got to see first-hand in this trial what a hate crime looks like,” prosecutor Steve Howe said in closing arguments. “The defendant’s actions clearly are the type of case the death penalty is made for.”
The jury, composed of seven men and five women, apparently agreed, quickly choosing a death sentence over the possibility of life without parole. The judge overseeing the trial will decide whether to follow the jury’s recommendation. Formal sentencing will be on Nov. 10.
Last week, the same jury found Miller, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, guilty in the shooting deaths in April 2014 of William Corporon, 69, and his grandson, Reat Underwood, 14, outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., as well as Terri LaManno, 53, in the parking lot of Village Shalom, a nearby retirement center. Though Miller was motivated by a hatred of Jews, all of the victims turned out to be Christians.
Members of the Corporon and LaManno families were in the courtroom Tuesday. At a press conference on the courtroom steps, William Corporon’s son, Tony, said, “Love, kindness and understanding will triumph over ignorance and hate. For our loved ones, there is no greater legacy.”
William “Jim” LaManno talked about his wife’s devout Catholic faith and echoed a message of hope: “She didn’t die in vain, for her good works will continue to benefit children and students.”
During closing arguments, Howe placed a photo of the three victims on an easel and carefully made the case for a death sentence. He listed the potential victims at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom that day, calling the number of people at risk “enormous.”
Then Howe talked about the victims, recalling testimony from some two dozen witnesses – and in some cases, Miller’s own words – to describe the events of April 13, 2014.
Obsessed with the idea that Jews were determined to wipe out the white race and convinced he was dying of emphysema, Miller drove nearly 200 miles from his southwest Missouri home to the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park where a high school talent competition was scheduled to take place, believing it would attract “young Jews.”
He was armed with two shotguns, a rifle, a revolver and numerous rounds of ammunition. He also had a bottle of whiskey in a paper sack with a note that he’d written: “Do not drink til mission accomplished.”
Around 1 p.m. he stopped his vehicle next to a red pickup truck driven by Corporon who’d brought his grandson to the talent contest. As the retired physician stepped out of his truck, Miller “blew his head off” at close range with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, Howe said.
Then Miller shot at some bystanders before killing Reat in the passenger seat of the pickup. Although Miller had expressed regret over shooting “the boy,” he also admitted earlier in cross-examination that he would harbor no such feelings had Reat been Jewish.
Howe described Miller shooting out the front doors and windows of the Jewish Community Center, hoping to “kill more people.” Then Miller drove five blocks south to Village Shalom, a retirement center, where he encountered LaManno in the parking lot. An occupational therapist for the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, LaManno was on her way to visit her mother, a resident of the nursing home.
Miller pulled out one shotgun and it jammed. Then he reached into his trunk and pulled out another as LaManno cried, “No, no, no!”
“Boom,” Howe said. “She begged for her life, ladies and gentleman.” As Miller drove away, he said, “she slowly bled to death.”
A witness, Margaret Hunker had described watching LaManno’s murder; Miller spared her life because she said no when he asked if she was Jewish. Police arrested Miller just 20 minutes later. Dashcam video captured Miller asking, “How many did I get?”
Miller has a long history of racism and anti-Semitism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. The center says Miller is the former “grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as another Klan group, the White Patriot Party. He also served time on federal weapons charges, according to the center.
At trial, Miller testified he was “proud” of the Kansas shootings. In a jailhouse phone call, he said he had “never felt such exhilaration.”
He adopted the same tone in his closing argument Tuesday, displaying a photo of his family on a video screen and then writing on an easel, “IT’S THE JEWS, STUPID!!!”
Miller spent less than 15 minutes of his allotted hour discussing the crime and its victims. “I know how to kill people quickly,” he said in rebuttal to the prosecution’s contention that his victims suffered.
After killing LaManno, he said he drove to a nearby elementary school, where he tried to call 911 on his wife’s cell phone — proving, he said, that he was accepting responsibility for his actions.
Miller then launched into a rambling diatribe describing “the Jewish problem,” admitting, “I hate Jews. I thrive on hate. Hate gets me through my day.” Miller had spent much of the trial expounding on his anti-Semitic beliefs and showing videos and articles to back up his claims. At one point, he showed an eight-minute clip of the mini-series, “Roots,” explaining that Jewish-controlled Hollywood produced the program to incite black-on-white violence.
Miller also called a number of witnesses, including, in a poignant moment, his son, Frazier Miller III, 39. Asked whether he loved his father, the son answered “yes.” He rated his dad “at least an 8” on a scale of 1 to 10. During an interview outside the courtroom, the son reiterated that none of the family shares his father’s views and said they have prayed for the victims’ families.
Another witness, Geraldine Perry, the widow of Miller’s best friend, testified that she and Miller operated a dog breeding business after her husband died, and shared profits that kept her from losing her home. She said she loved Miller but didn’t condone what he did.
Another witness described Miller’s military service. He retired as an Army master sergeant after seeing combat in Vietnam where he was a member of the elite Green Berets and was decorated for his bravery. Dr. James Lineback, a pulmonologist, estimated that Miller would live just another five or six years, due to his emphysema.
Miller also called white supremacist Alex Linder, who refused to answer directly when asked by the prosecution whether he condoned Miller’s decision to shoot three people.
“It’s not a yes-or-no question,” Linder said.