Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Murder Charges in Kansas City Shooting: What's Needed to Call It a Hate Crime

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Murder Charges in Kansas City Shooting: What's Needed to Call It a Hate Crime

Article excerpt

County prosecutors Tuesday charged the white supremacist suspected of killing three people outside two Kansas City-area Jewish community facilities Sunday with two counts of murder. However, despite a lengthy history of publicly espousing anti- Semitic views, F. Glenn Miller has not yet been charged with a federal hate crime, although federal prosecutors say those charges are pending.

"We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint of moving forward with this case, and it will be presented to the grand jury in the not too distant future," said Barry Grissom, US attorney for the District of Kansas. "Before I make any decision, I want all the facts."

The reason for the delay, legal experts say, is that proving hate crimes requires a careful examination of what Mr. Miller may have said that day, before and immediately after his arrest. Complicating matters is that, despite his history of directing hate speech against Jews, the three people he killed were Christian -- one a Catholic, and two others Methodist -- which may help his defense in arguing he was not driven by hate.

"Because a hate crime is an intentional crime, prosecutors have to show he definitely committed a criminal act with intentional hate," says Donald Tibbs, a law professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who specializes in civil rights and criminal procedure. "The better piece of evidence is the one before or during or after the crime."

Johnson County prosecutors charged Miller with one count of capital murder in the killings of a man and his grandson while they sat in their car at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan. Miller also was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a woman shot in the parking lot of an assisted living facility for Jewish seniors.

The capital murder charge allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty and involves a life sentence without parole. The second charge also carries a life sentence with no parole possible for at least 25 years.

Miller is a long-time leader of the Ku Klux Klan whose activity in the organization dates back to the 1980s; through a website, public speeches, an autobiography, campaigns for political office, and even media appearances, he regularly expressed hatred toward blacks and Jews. …

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