Crime

F. Glenn Miller tries to cut short pretrial hearing in Jewish center capital murder case

F. Glenn Miller Jr. argued with Judge Kelly Ryan during a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Olathe after Miller asked whether a witness was a Jew and Ryan questioned the validity of the question.
F. Glenn Miller Jr. argued with Judge Kelly Ryan during a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Olathe after Miller asked whether a witness was a Jew and Ryan questioned the validity of the question. skeyser@kcstar.com

F. Glenn Miller Jr., the ailing white supremacist who’s admitted to killing three gentiles in a rage against Jews, continued his unconventional defense Wednesday in the face of the death penalty.

In a rare courtroom scene, he cross-examined a woman he allegedly spared during the shooting spree that killed three people outside Jewish facilities in April 2014.

Maggie Hunker testified that she saw Miller kill someone in a care center parking lot before he pointed a gun at her and asked if she was a Jew. When she answered no, he put the gun away and drove off.

On Wednesday, he asked her if she had been truthful that day.

“Yes,” she replied.

Miller then said, “I’m glad I didn’t shoot you.”

“Me too,” she answered. “Thank you.”

The pretrial hearing in Johnson County District Court took up defense motions filed to suppress some witnesses’ testimony identifying Miller as the gunman. Judge Kelly Ryan took the motions under advisement, meaning he will rule on them later.

At one point Wednesday, Miller said he wanted to withdraw all the motions.

“This is absolutely pointless,” he said.

Ryan refused. The motions, filed by Miller’s previous defense team, are a critical part of the case, the judge told Miller.

Miller’s three previous attorneys attended but acted only as standby counsel while Miller, who is representing himself, asked questions of witnesses.

Miller tried without much success to turn the discussion toward his extremist beliefs about race and religion. After the judge didn’t allow Miller to ask one witness if he was Jewish, Miller said, “This whole trial is predicated on my hatred of Jews.”

Evidence presented Wednesday suggested Miller’s arrest came about 20 minutes after police began receiving word of the mayhem outside the Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom care center in Overland Park.

Prosecutors played recordings of last year’s 911 calls to establish the chaotic chain of events. About 20 minutes after police got their first report of a shooting, the audio showed, police officers told dispatchers that they’d taken a man into custody and that his car was parked at an elementary school at 123rd Street and Lamar Avenue, just blocks from Village Shalom.

Miller got out of the car and raised his arms in surrender before officers approached. Officers found several guns in the car and briefly checked the trunk to make sure nobody was inside, testimony showed.

After Miller’s arrest, eyewitness from the two shooting scenes identified Miller as the shooter, officers testified.

Miller asked police for whiskey, saying he hadn’t had drink in 20 years but wanted one now that his mission was accomplished, according to testimony.

Prosecutors showed video of Miller sitting in a patrol car. On it, he can be heard saying, “I’m an anti-Semite. I hate the goddamn Jews.”

To date, Miller has labored to fire his attorneys, declared that he doesn’t care if a jury sentences him to death and has said in court he thinks he’s likely smarter than the judge.

Miller, 74, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., has said he wants to use the courtroom as a forum to offer a rationale for his actions. He’s made anti-Semitic statements publicly long before and since last year’s killings.

Miller is charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of William Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, on April 13, 2014, outside the Jewish Community Center. Minutes later, he allegedly killed Terri LaManno, 53, outside the Village Shalom care center. All three were Christians.

He also is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building. He is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 17.

A final version of questionnaires to be sent out to about 1,000 prospective jurors has been agreed upon by Miller and prosecutors.

After police officers testified about the events of the day of the killings, Miller asked them far-ranging questions about guarding other religious facilities, suggesting that Christian churches were overlooked. He also talked about killings in the Middle East involving Muslims.

Prosecutors objected to those lines of questioning, and the judge cut him off.

When defense lawyers directly represented Miller, they twice made offers to Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe for Miller to plead guilty and serve life in prison if the death penalty were ditched. Twice, Howe has said, the state refused.

Miller filed a handwritten motion with the court last month requesting a typewriter in his cell. He claims in the motion that while he can type 90 words a minute, “my fingers and hands shake too much to write well.”

He’s been set up with a laptop and a printer, but that’s outside his cell.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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