Rarely does a criminal defendant become a star witness for prosecutors in his own trial.
But on Thursday, jurors in the capital murder trial of F. Glenn Miller Jr. heard him in taped phone conversations confess to the April 13, 2014, killings of three people outside Jewish centers in Overland Park.
“I did it. I’m proud of it. I planned it. I schemed it,” he said in a conversation last October.
After playing the recordings, Johnson County prosecutors rested their case against the 74-year-old avowed anti-Semite, who said on the tape that the killings gave him an “overpowering joy.”
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Miller, who is representing himself and is facing a possible death sentence if convicted, is to begin presenting the defense case at 9 a.m. Friday.
He allegedly shot William Corporon, 69, and his grandson, 14-year-old Reat Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center. A few minutes later, he allegedly killed Terri LaManno, 53, outside the nearby Village Shalom care center.
Shortly afterward, police arrested the Aurora, Mo., resident in a car carrying guns and ammunition that investigators later linked by scientific testing to the killing scenes.
The prosecution case, which began Monday, included the testimony of several eyewitnesses who identified Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., as the man they saw shooting people that day. Miller, who made a number of incriminating comments while cross-examining state witnesses, told two of them he was glad he didn’t shoot them.
Jurors also saw police dashcam footage of Miller asking police “How many did I get?” shortly after his arrest.
In the taped conversations played Thursday, it was clear that Miller knew his calls from the Johnson County jail to an unnamed person were being monitored and recorded.
However, he objected to them being played Thursday because he said they may “tend to incriminate me.” District Judge Kelly Ryan overruled the objection.
In the recordings, Miller said he was trying to kill Jewish people that day. All of the victims, however, were Christians.
He expressed surprise that “white Christians” would be at a Jewish community center, and he said he was sorry for killing a 14-year-old boy, who he thought was older.
He said he decided to act when he did because he thought he was dying of emphysema.
“My biggest fear was that I’d die before I killed some Jews,” he said.
He chose the attack date because a talent competition was being held at the center that day. He said he believed that “young Jews” from all over would attend.
Reat Underwood was to participate in the competition.
Miller also said he had “reconnoitered” the center several times and was surprised he was not met by armed guards.
After the state rested its case, Miller asked for a continuance until at least Monday to prepare his defense. He complained that materials he needed had not yet been received, and he said he needed to rest from the “stress and exertion” of the past four days.
Ryan excused jurors and then met privately with Miller and three lawyers who are acting as his standby counsel.
After the meeting, back in the courtroom without the jury present, Ryan tried to explain to Miller upcoming court procedures and rules. But Miller continually interrupted and argued with the judge, referring to court procedure as “mumbo jumbo.”
He dismissed the judge’s explanations of the law as “filibustering.”
Ryan warned that if Miller continued his disrespectful and disruptive behavior, he would be removed from the courtroom and the standby lawyers would take over the defense.
Miller previously fired those attorneys, who had been appointed to represent him, and demanded the right to represent himself.
At that time and on a number of subsequent occasions, the judge told Miller that he would be held to the same standards of courtroom decorum as a lawyer.
When Miller continued to insist on speaking out Thursday, the judge told him that it was a court of law and not a press conference.
Miller, who has said he plans to testify, said he wants the jury to understand his state of mind and why he did what he did.
But the judge already has ruled that materials such as books and newspaper articles he wants to present as evidence will not be allowed at this phase of the trial.
If the jury finds Miller guilty of capital murder, a second phase will be held to determine if he will be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
That second phase will be when Miller can present information about what he has described as the “Jewish genocide against the white race.”
According to Miller, books he has read “filled my head” with anti-Semitic beliefs and are necessary to explain his actions.
“You will have your opportunity to explain your state of mind,” Ryan assured him.
The Star’s previous trial coverage:
Day 1: As the trial opens, F. Glenn Miller Jr. puts himself at the scene of the Jewish center shootings:
Day 2: Jurors view police video of F. Glenn Miller Jr. just after his arrest in the fatal shootings:
Day 3: Prosecutors are close to finishing their case against F. Glenn Miller Jr.: