A white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City was brought into a video conference room in a wheelchair on Tuesday to make his first court appearance.
Wearing a dark, sleeveless anti-suicide smock, Frazier Glenn Cross stood under his own power to face the camera, crossing his arms and speaking only when answering routine questions from the judge in a Johnson County courtroom several kilometers away. He requested a court-appointed lawyer.
A Johnson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman declined to say why Cross was in a wheelchair. Prosecutors did not answer questions about Cross’ health on Monday.
The 73-year-old is being held on US$10 million bond and his next court appearance is scheduled for tomorrow.
Physician William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, were shot and killed outside of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Both were Methodist.
Moments later, Terri LaManno, a 53-year-old Catholic occupational therapist and mother of two, was gunned down outside Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement complex where she was visiting her mother.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said specific details about actions that led to the charges against Cross are contained in an affidavit, which under Kansas law is not considered public information.
The criminal complaint released on Tuesday describes the charges and includes a list of witnesses, but nothing else.
In Kansas, one of the narrow circumstances in which capital murder cases are pursued includes the intentional killing of more than one person in “the same act or transaction or in two or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or course of conduct.”
In this case, a single charge was applied to the deaths of Corporon and his grandson because the deaths occurred in a very short period of time as part of the same act, prosecutors said.
LaManno’s death does not meet the standard for capital murder, Howe said, but he would not provide details or evidence to explain.
Federal prosecutors say there is enough evidence to warrant putting the case before a grand jury as a hate crime, but US Attorney Barry Grissom on Tuesday said that federal charges were likely a week or more away.
Cross’ state case would have to be resolved before he could be moved to a federal trial.
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.
Cross shouted “heil Hitler” at television cameras as he was arrested after Sunday’s killings.