KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Reuters) - A judge on Tuesday denied a request for a new trial and prepared to decide whether a white supremacist convicted of shooting three people to death at two Jewish centers in Kansas last year should be sentenced to death.
A jury in early September convicted Frazier Glenn Cross, 74, a former senior member of the Ku Klux Klan, of the murders and recommended that he be put to death. He also was convicted of three counts of attempted murder for shooting at three other people.
Cross, sitting in a wheelchair in jail clothing, contended on Tuesday that his trial was unfair and asked for a new one, but Johnson County District Court Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan ruled against him.
As many as 12 witnesses were expected to testify on Tuesday afternoon in the sentencing phase, prosecutors said. Relatives of victims were attending the hearing.
The jury found Cross guilty of killing Reat Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Corporon, 69, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, and Terri LaManno, 53, outside a Jewish retirement home, both in Overland Park, Kansas.
Cross admitted during the trial that he committed the April 13, 2014 killings and said he had wanted to kill as many Jews as he could. None of those killed were Jewish.
Cross, representing himself, was defiant throughout the trial. He gave a Nazi salute to the jury, and declared “Death to the Jews” at the end of his closing statement.
Cross, also known as Glenn Miller, clashed repeatedly at the trial with Johnson County District Court Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan and was removed from the courtroom at times. Cross was critical of Ryan again at Tuesday, alleging bias in favor of prosecutors.
Ryan will consider sentencing at a morning hearing on Tuesday. Prosecutors indicated that several people would like to speak before Ryan passes sentence, said Lisa Taylor, spokeswoman for the court. It is unclear whether Cross will testify, she said.
At the end of his closing statement at the trial, Cross dared jurors to give him the death penalty. Several relatives of the murder victims sat in the front rows of the courtroom when the jury announced its verdict at the trial.
Kansas restored the death penalty in 1994, but no one has been executed in the state since 1965. Nine people are now on death row in the state, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Alan Crosby