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Man Who Killed Three At Jewish Centers In Overland Park Seeks To Overturn His Death Sentence

 Mindy Corporon and Jim LaMano lost loved ones in the shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in April 2014.
Elle Moxley
Mindy Corporon and Jim LaMano lost loved ones in the shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in April 2014.

The man who said he was looking to kill Jews when he shot three people to death in Overland Park, Kansas, in 2014 is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn his death sentence.

In oral arguments before the court Monday, a lawyer for Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. said that Miller should not have been allowed to represent himself in such a complex capital case and that prosecutors made improper closing arguments.

Miller was convicted of capital murder in August 2015 for the premeditated killings of 69-year-old William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park and the killing of 53-year-old Teresa LaManno at the nearby Village Shalom retirement complex.

A Johnson County jury also convicted Miller of three counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault and the criminal discharge of a firearm.

Miller, who also went by Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., insisted on representing himself at trial, although the court provided him with standby counsel. The self-avowed anti-Semite testified that he drove to Overland Park from his Aurora, Missouri, home looking to murder Jews. None of his victims turned out to be Jewish.

Miller’s appellate attorney, Reid Nelson, argued that Kansas’ capital murder statute allows a jury to consider only certain types of conduct by the defendant and not his state of mind or motivation when deciding whether to impose the death penalty.

He said that prosecutors improperly argued that Miller had committed a hate crime that was an aggravating factor suitable for consideration by the jury.

“Mr. Cross was entitled to a jury verdict that was not tainted by the prosecutors’ inflammatory comments,” Nelson told the seven justices of the Supreme Court in proceedings conducted via Zoom.

Nelson also argued that Miller should not have been allowed to represent himself because he had mental health issues that made him incompetent to represent himself in a capital murder case.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe urged the court to uphold the death penalty for Miller, saying it “was created for cases like this.”

“I think the Legislature structured a limited type of cases to meet these criteria — the worst of the worst, as indicated by counsel — and I think they did this in this case,” Howe told the court.

During his jury trial, Miller frequently interrupted the proceedings, often railing against Jewish conspiracies and Jewish control of the government and media. Upon being sentenced to death, he yelled, “Heil Hitler.”

The Corporon family issued a statement on Monday, saying they lived with the events of April 13, 2014 “in our hearts and minds daily.” William Corporon, a retired physician, was Mindy Corporon’s father. Reat Underwood was her son.

In the wake of the killings, the family created the Faith Always Wins Foundation, which is dedicated “to promoting dialogue for the betterment of our world through kindness, faith and healing.”

“Regardless of the outcome of today’s legal hearing,” the family said in its statement “we continue to honor the legacies and memories of our loved ones, William Corporon and Reat Underwood. We are lifted by our faith in God, your kind words, and your prayers.”

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.