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White Supremacist Could Face Death Penalty for Kansas Killings

Frazier Glenn Cross, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, was charged with capital murder Tuesday in the killings of three people at Kansas Jewish Centers.
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Kansas authorities charged Frazier Glenn Cross with capital murder on Tuesday, the early legal steps in what could culminate in the pursuit of the death penalty for the 73-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader who allegedly shot to death three people at Jewish centers.

Whether prosecutors seek to put Cross to death won't become clear for months, probably, as Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe discusses the case with his prosecutors and the victims' families.

"I don't plan on making a knee-jerk reaction," Howe said at a news conference announcing the charges. "I prefer to take my time to make my decision."

Cross, a Vietnam veteran and avowed white supremacist who has tangled for years with civil rights groups and authorities, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Johnson County District Court.

Looking slightly disheveled, he wore a sleeveless Kevlar smock and was taken via wheelchair to appear on a video feed before a judge.

When asked if he had an attorney, Cross replied, “I don’t have any money.” He was appointed a public defender.

His bail was set at $10 million, and his next hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 24.

He was taken into custody Sunday immediately after the shootings, which took place at two Jewish centers. At the first, he allegedly shot to death 14-year-old Eagle Scout Reat Underwood and his 69-year-old grandfather, William Corporon, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City campus in Overland Park.

Then he allegedly drove to Village Shalom, a nearby retirement community, and gunned down Terri LaManno, a 53-year-old children's center worker.

Although Cross seemed to be motivated by his animosity toward Jews — federal authorities say they have enough evidence to charge him with hate crimes — none of the victims was Jewish.

Kansas authorities charged Cross with two crimes: capital murder, for the simultaneous killings of Underwood and Corporon, and premeditated murder, for the killing of LaManno.

The capital murder charge carries a minimum of life in prison without parole. The premeditated murder charge does not offer parole for 25 years.

Cross has not been charged with weapons offenses, despite the fact that as a convicted felon it is illegal for him to possess a gun.

Howe said he may add charges later.