Judge rejects defense argument in Jewish site shootings case

AP News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2015 8:33 PM
Judge rejects defense argument in Jewish site shootings case

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge rejected a white supremacist's effort Friday to argue in court that the killings of three people at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City were necessary.

Johnson County Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan said the "compelling necessity" defense could not be used in the guilt phase of the capital murder trial of Frazier Glenn Miller, 74, of Aurora, Missouri. Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of letting Miller use the defense if he is convicted of the killings and jurors have to decide whether he will be sentenced to death.

Miller does not deny gunning down Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, and Terri LaManno, 53, at the nearby Village Shalom care center on April 13, 2014. He said he felt it was his duty to kill Jewish people before he died; he didn't know all three were Christians.

Miller spoke Friday for nearly an hour about his planned defense, explaining that the Declaration of Independence gave him the "right" to do what he did and insisting that "there is no legal way to save the white race." His rambling presentation touched on Caitlyn Jenner, AIDS, Israel, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, British wartime leader Winston Churchill, the Rev. Billy Graham and a Jewish conspiracy he alleged was behind the sitcom "All in the Family."

Ryan said there was no connection between the argument Miller made and the killings. In ruling from the bench, Ryan used guidance provided in the case of abortion opponent Scott Roeder, who unsuccessfully attempted to present a similar defense during his trial for killing late-term Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Miller, who is representing himself with defense attorneys available to help, responded to the decision by calling Ryan an "egg-sucking mule." The hearing was marked with frequent outbursts and occasional anti-Semitic remarks from Miller, who at one point called himself a Nazi.

Ryan ruled against Miller on a series of motion, starting when he refused to step down from the case because he said there weren't grounds for the request. Miller argued that Ryan was obstructing justice by not ruling quickly on motions or allowing him a computer with online access.

The next hearing is set for Aug. 5. The trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 17 with jury selection.