A former Ku Klux Klan leader from North Carolina said Thursday that he doesn’t care if a jury sentences him to death for allegedly killing three people last year outside Jewish facilities in Overland Park, Kansas.
F. Glenn Miller Jr. fired his attorneys during a court hearing Thursday, apparently to give him a forum in court to espouse the anti-Semitic beliefs that may have fueled the deadly shooting spree.
Miller demanded that he be allowed to represent himself, despite the advice of his lawyers and a reminder from the judge handling the case that he could be executed if found guilty.
“It’s my life, and I’ll do as I please,” he said during a hearing Thursday in Johnson County District Court. “The death penalty don’t bother me.”
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In fact, Miller, who is 74 and in ill health, said that after he has the chance to make his case, “I’ll climb up on the gurney and stick the needle in myself.”
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., was living with his family on a Johnston County farm when he founded an organization called the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1980. The group changed names, eventually becoming the White Patriot Party as it turned into more of a paramilitary group. Miller organized rallies and ran for public office in North Carolina in the 1980s to advocate for an “all-white independent Southern republic.”
Now Miller is charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of William Corporon 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.
Miller’s trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 17. Thursday’s hearing was meant to take up some of the pretrial motions filed by the three experienced death penalty litigators appointed to represent him.
At the start of the hearing, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe discussed plea negotiations that have taken place. Miller’s lawyers have made offers twice for him to plead guilty and be sentenced to life in prison if the state would take the death penalty off the table, Howe said.
The state declined both times, most recently on May 6, Howe said.
Defense attorney Mark Manna then said Miller wished to speak. When District Judge Kelly Ryan indicated he wasn’t going to allow it, Miller then blurted that he wanted to fire his legal team.
Howe said that based on prior court rulings, refusing a defendant’s request to represent himself could lead to a conviction being overturned on appeal.
Ryan called a recess to allow Miller and his lawyers to confer. Back in court, Manna said Miller wanted to act as his own attorney.
Ryan started advising Miller that he would be held to the same standards of conduct and rules of trial as a licensed lawyer. Miller kept interrupting the judge.
“Can I get out a statement here without you interrupting me?” Ryan asked.
The judge warned Miller that if he acted up during court proceedings he would be removed from the courtroom and his attorneys would be reappointed.
Miller said he would behave. When the judge asked Miller if he felt competent to represent himself, Miller said he was.
“My IQ is probably higher than yours,” he told the judge.
After questioning Miller, the judge said that he found Miller’s decision was made knowingly and intelligently and he would allow it.
He asked Miller’s former attorneys if they would agree to act as “standby counsel” to assist Miller. Manna said they would do that.
But Miller will be responsible for filing written motions, making courtroom arguments and arranging to call his own experts and witnesses, the judge said.
Miller noted that one witness he plans to call is actor Mel Gibson.