Crime

Death penalty will be sought for F. Glenn Miller Jr. in killings outside Jewish facilities

Charged in the April rampage at area Jewish facilities, F. Glenn Miller Jr. appeared Thursday at a competency hearing in Johnson County District Court in Olathe. He was found competent to stand trial for the three killings.
Charged in the April rampage at area Jewish facilities, F. Glenn Miller Jr. appeared Thursday at a competency hearing in Johnson County District Court in Olathe. He was found competent to stand trial for the three killings. The Kansas City Star

Moments after he was ruled mentally competent Thursday to stand trial, the man accused in an Overland Park killing rampage learned that he will face a possible death sentence if convicted.

Not that 74-year-old F. Glenn Miller Jr. seemed to mind.

“I don’t fear the death penalty,” Miller said. “I’m already dying.”

Miller, who has said he was targeting Jewish people in the shooting spree that took the lives of three non-Jews, including a 14-year-old boy, is believed to be the oldest person to face a potential death penalty in Kansas.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe filed notice of his intent to seek a death sentence at the end of a hearing Thursday in Johnson County District Court. The hearing was scheduled to determine if Miller was competent to stand trial.

Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan had ordered a competency evaluation for Miller last month, after Miller’s attorneys requested it.

To be competent, a criminal defendant in Kansas must be able to understand the nature of court proceedings and be able to assist in his defense.

After receiving results of an evaluation conducted by a psychologist with Johnson County Mental Health, Ryan ruled Thursday that Miller met the legal threshold.

Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., is charged with capital murder in the April 13 shooting deaths of Terri LaManno, 53, William Lewis Corporon, 69, and Reat Griffin Underwood, 14.

Corporon and his grandson, Reat, were shot outside the Jewish Community Center. LaManno was killed outside the Village Shalom care center.

Miller, of Aurora, Mo., told The Kansas City Star in a phone interview earlier this year that he wanted to kill Jews when he undertook the attacks. He also said that he acted because he is terminally ill with emphysema.

After giving the judge a copy of his death penalty notice, Howe placed a copy of the notice in front of Miller and handed a copy to Miller’s attorney, Ron Evans.

It was the first such notice Howe has filed since he took office in early 2009.

Because of a court-imposed gag order, Howe could not discuss his reasoning in seeking a death sentence. But under Kansas law, the killing of more than one person during the same “course of conduct” is one of the limited factors in which prosecutors can seek a death sentence.

Miller also is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting at but missing three other people. He also is charged with single counts of aggravated assault and discharging a firearm into an occupied building.

The last person sentenced to death in Johnson County was convicted serial killer John E. Robinson Sr. in 2003. Robinson remains in prison while his appeal is pending.

After the hearing Thursday, Mindy Corporon, the daughter of William Corporon and mother of Reat, released a written statement that said:

“We make no comment on the ongoing criminal proceedings surrounding Reat, Bill and Mrs. LaManno. We respect the judicial process and have faith that justice will prevail. We choose, instead, to promote and honor acts of faith, love, hope and goodness through the Faith Always Wins Foundation and our upcoming April event.

“During this holiday season, we pray for every person, regardless of race or religion, who has lost a loved one; and ask all people to pursue goodness and grace over evil and hate today, and every day.”

Brian Fowler, a friend and spokesman for the LaManno family, said that they also had no comment on the legal proceedings and trust that justice will be done.

A preliminary hearing at which prosecutors will present evidence publicly for the first time is scheduled for March 2.

Miller appeared upset by the date and blurted, “What about my speedy trial?”

The judge told him to speak with his lawyers.

Evans told the judge that he intends to file several motions pertaining to evidence Miller wants to present. A hearing on those motions is scheduled for Feb. 6.

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

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