Cross disrupts courtroom after learning he faces death penalty - KCTV5

Cross disrupts courtroom after learning he faces death penalty

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Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced his intention to seek the death penalty at a hearing for Frazier Glenn Cross, 74, of Aurora, MO, who has said he felt it was his patriotic duty to kill Jews. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced his intention to seek the death penalty at a hearing for Frazier Glenn Cross, 74, of Aurora, MO, who has said he felt it was his patriotic duty to kill Jews.
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OLATHE, KS (KCTV/AP) -

A prosecutor will seek the death penalty against a white supremacist from Missouri who was ruled competent Thursday to face trial on charges of killing three people at two Jewish sites in Johnson County.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced his intention to seek the death penalty at a hearing for Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 74, of Aurora, MO, who has said he felt it was his patriotic duty to kill Jews.

"I don't fear the death penalty. I'm already dying," said Cross, who has emphysema

Cross is accused of killing Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who were at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City on April 13 for a singing contest audition. He also is accused of fatally shooting 53-year-old Terri LaManno, who was visiting her mother at a Jewish retirement home in nearby Overland Park.

None of the victims were Jewish.

Cross, who was a candidate for office in Missouri under the name Glenn Miller, was brought into the Johnson County courtroom Thursday in a wheelchair. After Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan scheduled a three-day preliminary hearing in March, Cross protested, shouting, "What about my speedy trial?"

After Howe announced his intention to seek the death penalty, Cross responded that he wasn't afraid because he is dying anyway. He offered to "grease the tracks" for prosecutors if they cooperated with him, but Ryan cut him off and said he needed to communicate through his attorneys.

Cross has never denied committing the shootings.

"I attacked those Jewish centers because Jews commit genocide against white people," Cross cried out. "I have a right to do that."

Howe and defense attorneys declined to comment after the hearing. Cross has said he wants to fire one of the attorneys, keep the other as an adviser and represent himself at trial.

Mindy Corporon, William Corporon's daughter and Reat Underwood's mother, issued a statement after Thursday's hearing:

"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."

Ryan had ordered Cross last month to undergo a competency hearing after his attorneys expressed concerns about his ability to assist with some aspects of his defense. Cross responded angrily that the delays were meant to help the prosecutor get re-elected.

Cross said he became concerned during an emergency room visit in late March that he didn't have much time left to live. In several phone calls to the Associated Press, Cross said he killed the three because he thought he was dying and he felt it was his duty. He said he regretted shooting the teenager.

He has told the AP and other media outlets that he planned and executed the fatal attacks, and that it was his intent to use the trial as a means to "put the Jews on trial where they belong."

Cross is a Vietnam War veteran from southwest Missouri who founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in his native North Carolina, and later the White Patriot Party.

He was the target of a nationwide manhunt in 1987, when federal agents tracked him and three other men to a rural Missouri home stocked with hand grenades and automatic weapons. He was indicted on weapons charges and accused of plotting robberies and the assassination of the Southern Poverty Law Center's founder. He served three years in federal prison.

Cross also ran for the U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010 in Missouri, each time espousing a white-power platform.

Kansas hasn't executed anyone since 1965. There are seven inmates on death row in Kansas. The last time that the death penalty was sought in Johnson County came more than a decade ago in the case of serial killer John Robinson.

Kansas City typically seems more than 100 murders in a year, but a Jackson County prosecutor hasn't sought the death penalty since 2008 when a woman's violent and graphic death in 2006 was captured on hours of videotape. 

Jackson County's prosecutor is currently considering seeking the death penalty in the spree killing of five people in a south Kansas City neighborhood.

Paul Morrison, who successfully mounted the death penalty case against Robinson, said it typically takes two decades for someone to be executed after they've received a death sentence. Because of Cross' poor health, he likely will die by natural causes, Morrison said.

The lengthy appeals are intended to ensure that the system works, Morrison said.

"You can't do a do over if you kill somebody. Sometimes it's frustrating because it takes forever in some of these cases where there's overwhelming evidence, but it's all part of how the system is designed to work," Morrison said.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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