Crime

Death sentence imposed on F. Glenn Miller Jr. in hate crime killings

The three people murdered in last year’s Overland Park shooting rampage were remembered at the killer’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. Those in the Johnson County courtroom stood as Mindy Corporon played a recording of her son, 14-year-old murder victim Reat Underwood, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At her side was her son 13-year-old Lukas Losen; District Attorney Steve Howe was at left. The two other murder victims were Reat’s grandfather, William Corporon, and Terri LaManno.
The three people murdered in last year’s Overland Park shooting rampage were remembered at the killer’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. Those in the Johnson County courtroom stood as Mindy Corporon played a recording of her son, 14-year-old murder victim Reat Underwood, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At her side was her son 13-year-old Lukas Losen; District Attorney Steve Howe was at left. The two other murder victims were Reat’s grandfather, William Corporon, and Terri LaManno. jledford@kcstar.com

The 74-year-old Missouri man who unleashed years of pent-up anti-Semitism in a spasm of gunfire that killed three Christians was sentenced Tuesday to death.

Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan followed the recommendation of the jury that earlier this year found F. Glenn Miller Jr. guilty of capital murder in the April 13, 2014, shooting spree in Overland Park.

“Your attempt to bring hate into this community and terrorize this community has failed,” Ryan said. “You have failed, Mr. Miller.”

Immediately after the sentence was imposed, Miller exploded in an angry outburst. Deputies removed him from the courtroom.

Miller’s rampage outside the Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom care center took the lives of 14-year-old Reat Underwood; his grandfather William Corporon, 69; and Terri LaManno, 53, who worked with visually impaired children.

Though Miller failed in his stated motive to kill as many Jews as possible that day, he defiantly declared his “mission” a success. On Tuesday, he reiterated his hatred of Jews and desire to kill Jewish people.

“I’d do it again,” he said of the shootings, “if they ever let me out of here.”

In contrast to Miller’s profession of hate, relatives of the people he killed said his act of evil had strengthened their commitment to love and compassion to others.

Many of them expressed pity for Miller and told him that they hoped he would find the peace they have found in their religious faith.

Mindy Corporon, whose son and father were two of the victims, said she is a Christian, but is able to embrace other faiths.

“I feel sorry for you that you’ve never felt love and peace like I have,” she said. “It’s the evil and hatred in you that doesn’t allow you to do that.”

While some who spoke said they supported a death sentence, others expressed forgiveness.

“I wish you a long life,” said John Hastings, LaManno’s brother. “I wish you the opportunity to change your heart.”

Will Corporon, the son of William Corporon, told Miller that his act of evil brought people together in a movement that will continue “long after your sorry carcass is gone.”

“Very soon, you’re going to be locked up where you’re not going to be able to spew your filth,” he said.

Terri LaManno’s sister, Mary Beth Euston, arrived at Village Shalom a few minutes after the shooting and saw the tarp-covered body without knowing it was her sister.

“If I had been there five minutes earlier, I would have hurt you,” she said. “I would have charged you.”

Euston still feels anger toward Miller, but said she is uplifted by the grace of God.

“You’re no less worthy of that grace no matter what you’ve done,” she said.

Terri LaManno’s husband, William LaManno, took the opportunity to warn of the threat of domestic terrorism posed by people like Miller.

“They are among us with sedition and treason in their hearts,” he said.

The emotional highlight of a long emotional day was the playing of an audiotape of Reat singing.

As the sound of his soaring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” came on, the courtroom audience stood, many with tears in their eyes.

After the sentencing was over, members of the Corporon and LaManno families announced plans to continue a movement to promote peace and understanding begun in the wake of the killings. Information about the movement and upcoming events can be found online at SevenDays.org.

Before sentencing, Miller argued for a new trial based on several allegations that he did not receive a fair trial, including his request for a change of venue. The judge denied all of the issues raised in his motion.

According to testimony at Miller’s trial, he drove from his home in southern Missouri to Overland Park with four firearms and a large amount of ammunition after previously scouting the locations.

Police later found a flier in Miller’s car advertising a singing competition at the community center, and Miller testified that he chose that date because he believed there would be a large number of “young Jews” and their families there.

When he arrived at the center, he stopped behind a parked pickup truck occupied by Corporon and his grandson, a participant in the singing competition.

Miller shot Corporon in the head with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on Reat, shooting him in the face as he sat in the truck.

He then fired at a man and his son who were walking in the parking lot. Neither was hit.

Next, he fired multiple shotgun and rifle shots into the community center’s White Theatre, shattering the front windows and sending people inside diving for cover.

As a motorist drove past, Miller fired a shot into his vehicle. Again, that man was not injured.

Another man, Jay Coombes, who was working at the theater, had just gotten out of his car when Miller pulled up and fired a half-dozen pistol shots at him. None hit Coombes.

Miller then fired at another man who had run after his vehicle in an attempt to get the license plate number. Again, that man escaped injury.

Leaving the center, Miller drove to the nearby Village Shalom care center where he saw LaManno, who was there to visit her mother, a Village Shalom resident.

He shot LaManno in the face and neck with a shotgun. He then turned the weapon toward another woman and asked whether she was a Jew. When she answered no, he put the weapon in his car and left.

Miller drove a few blocks to an elementary school and parked there until police arrived.

He told officers that he was an anti-Semite and asked them, “How many did I get?”

At trial, Miller represented himself and testified that he believed the killings were justified because of what he termed the “Jewish genocide against the white race.”

In addition to the death sentence for capital murder, Miller was sentenced Tuesday on three counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building. The judge imposed a total sentence of 394 months, more than 32 years, for those crimes.

Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., will be housed in the special management unit at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in southeast Kansas. There, he will be confined to his cell 23 hours a day. The hour each day he will spend outside his cell to shower or exercise will be done with no contact with other inmates.

It is only the second time a case from Johnson County has resulted in a death sentence since Kansas reinstated capital punishment in 1994. Convicted serial killer John E. Robinson Sr. was sentenced to death in 2003. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Robinson’s death sentence last week.

After Tuesday’s sentencing, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe called Miller the most disruptive, disrespectful and evil defendant he had ever dealt with.

Howe said that in Kansas the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst.

“This case fits the worst of the worst,” he said.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

Some of The Star’s previous coverage:

After death sentence for murders, victims’ families thank those who “stare down the face of hate.”

Death penalty phase next after F. Glenn Miller Jr. found guilty in Jewish center shootings

Every Jew in the world knows my name now”

Those who knew Miller in southwest Missouri thought he was all talk, no action - until Sunday.

Black Sunday: Apparent hate crime at Jewish centers leaves 3 dead

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