OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The man accused of murdering three people outside two separate Jewish centers in Overland Park on Sunday, April 13, faces a charge of capital murder and a charge of first degree premeditated murder, Steve Howe, Johnson County District Attorney, announced Tuesday morning. (Watch video in the player below.)
If convicted, the punishment for capital murder is either life without parole, or the death penalty. The penalty for premeditated first-degree murder is life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
“Life without parole, or if we choose we file a notice of requesting the death penalty,” Howe said. “I don’t take that decision lightly. That decision will be made after we get all the facts and evidence of the case because we want to make an informed decision before that is done.”
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom was also there at the news conference. Grissom said Tuesday he feels “comfortable recommending that the matter move forward” as a federal hate crime, but he said he would not anticipate filing any charges “for some period of time.” Grissom said filing charges on the federal level is not as nimble of a process as filing charges on the state level, so it would take awhile.
Under Kansas law, because Reat Underwood and Dr. William Corporon were killed at the same time, their deaths fall under one capital murder charge. The first-degree premeditated murder charge is for the death of Terri LaManno.
About the decision to seek the death penalty, Howe said:
“Ultimately it’s my decision, but it generally in these types of cases we consult with the victims’ families. We consult with law enforcement. That’s pretty typical for us to do, and again, you know, this case is so fresh, we don’t even have all the reports yet, we don’t have all the facts. The officers have been working overtime to get all the reports drafted. I don’t plan on having a knee-jerk reaction. I’d rather take my time and make an informed decision.”
Howe and Grissom would not answer questions about how Cross was behaving behind bars or whether he was cooperating with them.
Cross is to be in court at 1:30 p.m. in Johnson County District Court in Olathe, Kan. He’s being held on $10 million bond.