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Oldest defendant launches criminal defense against murder charges

It is a dubious distinction: A 73-year-old man who is charged with the deaths of three people in Overland Park, Kansas, is thought to be the oldest person ever charged with capital murder. The man is currently mounting a criminal defense against those allegations, for which he could possibly face a death sentence. Only a few people nationwide have faced such serious charges after age 70.

Experts speculate that even if prosecutors attempt to obtain a death penalty in the case, the man's appeals process could take years after a conviction. In fact, most inmates on death row across the nation stay there for 15 years before they are finally executed. Interestingly, in the past two decades since the death penalty was reinstated in the state, no death row inmate has been executed. Kansas law indicates that capital murder could lead to either a lifetime sentence in prison or an order for death by lethal injection.

The defendant in this case is accused of going on a shooting spree in mid-April outside of Jewish facilities in the Overland Park area. Legal experts say that few older Americans are ever charged with such serious crimes. Currently, the oldest man on Kansas death row is just 70 years old. All of the 13 other men who have been to trial for capital murder charges in the state received life prison sentences.

It is not yet clear whether the man in this case intends to enter a guilty plea or actually pursue a criminal trial. The outcome of his sentencing process could be very different, depending on the option he selects. A criminal defense attorney may be able to advise such defendants -- even those accused of lesser crimes than capital murder -- about the benefits and drawbacks of negotiating a plea deal.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "F. Glenn Miller may be Kansas’ oldest capital murder defendant" Tony Rizzo, Apr. 27, 2014

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