Other family members do not possess the anti-Semitic views that prompted F. Glenn Miller Jr.’s deadly shooting spree outside Jewish facilities last year in Overland Park, the convicted killer’s son testified Wednesday.
“I don’t know where he learned all the things he learned about hating Jews and about hating other races,” Frazier Glenn Miller III told jurors in the second penalty phase day of his father’s capital murder trial.
The Johnson County jury, which already convicted Miller Jr. of capital murder, now is hearing testimony on whether Miller Jr. should be sentenced to life in prison or death for three ambush killings on April 13, 2014.
Miller III, a 39-year-old truck driver, described his dad as a good father who took care of his family and looked out for other people in need.
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Though they had many political disagreements over the years, Miller III said he still loves his father.
Later, while speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Miller III expressed sympathy to relatives of his father’s victims.
“We prayed for the families,” he said.
Although his father had espoused hateful beliefs for decades, no family member had any inkling that he was going to kill people over them, Miller III said.
“I cannot tell you why,” he said. “I’ll never understand the reasons.”
His father always treated others with respect and tried to help the underdog, he said.
Miller III struggled with the decision to testify but finally decided to after speaking on the phone with his father Tuesday night.
“I love my dad. That’s why I’m here,” he said outside the courthouse. “I don’t want to see him die.”
Miller Jr., who believes Jews too deeply influence American politics and finances, plans to call more witnesses as he tries to convince jurors to spare his life.
According to trial testimony, a heavily armed Miller drove from his Aurora, Mo., home to Johnson County intent on killing as many Jews as he could while a high school talent competition was taking place at the Jewish Community Center. Instead, he fatally shot three Christians.
He killed William Corporon, 69, and his grandson Reat Underwood, 14, outside the Jewish Community Center. He killed Terri LaManno, 53, outside the nearby Village Shalom retirement community.
Prosecutors say that Miller’s “heinous, cruel and atrocious” actions deserve the death penalty.
Other witnesses Miller called Wednesday included friends who testified about his character.
Dan Clevenger, the operator of a small-engine repair business who previously served as mayor of Marionville, Mo., said he had known Miller for 13 years. He described him as honest and one of his best customers.
Clevenger also said he shared some of Miller’s political viewpoints but did not condone his actions.
Geraldine Perry testified that without Miller’s financial help she would have lost her home after her husband died. Although she said she could not comprehend that he was capable of the crimes he committed, she still loves him, she said.
Miller asked if she wanted to see him executed.
“The death penalty is wrong for anybody,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, before testimony began, Miller asked District Judge Kelly Ryan if he could tell jurors that he had offered to plead guilty to all charges if prosecutors dropped the death penalty.
Prosecutors refused the plea deal.
Miller said he wanted to show his willingness to accept responsibility. Prosecutors objected, arguing that Miller could have pleaded guilty at any time without a deal.
Ryan took the matter under advisement.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.
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.
Day 3: Prosecutors are close to finishing the case against F. Glenn Miller Jr.
Day 4: F. Glenn Miller Jr. will begin his defense case Friday.
Day 5: F. Glenn Miller Jr. tells jurors he regrets not killing more people.
Day 6: Death penalty phase is next after F. Glenn Miller Jr. is found guilty in the Jewish center shootings.
Day 7: Death penalty phase begins in F. Glenn Miller Jr.’s trial for killings outside Jewish centers.