Skip to main content

Serial killer Joseph Franklin executed after hours of delay

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
November 21, 2013 -- Updated 1018 GMT (1818 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Joseph Paul Franklin is executed after the Supreme Court declines to step in
  • Two judges granted stays Tuesday
  • He shot Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt
  • He was executed for a 1977 killing outside a St. Louis synagogue

(CNN) -- White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was executed Wednesday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final requests for a stay, the Missouri Department of Public Safety said.

The execution, which had been scheduled for shortly after midnight Wednesday, was delayed for hours because of court appeals. Franklin was administered a lethal injection at 6:07 a.m. CT (7:07 a.m. ET). He died ten minutes later.

Franklin refused his final meal and gave no final statement.

He was on death row for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue in St. Louis. He was blamed for 22 killings between 1977 and 1980 in a bid to start a race war.

Law enforcement officers meet in San Francisco in 1969 to compare notes on the Zodiac Killer, who is believed to have killed five people in 1968 and 1969. The killer gained notoriety by writing several letters to police boasting of the slayings. He claimed to have killed as many as 37 people and has never been caught. Law enforcement officers meet in San Francisco in 1969 to compare notes on the Zodiac Killer, who is believed to have killed five people in 1968 and 1969. The killer gained notoriety by writing several letters to police boasting of the slayings. He claimed to have killed as many as 37 people and has never been caught.
Infamous serial killers
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Infamous serial killers Photos: Infamous serial killers
1981: How they caught Joseph Franklin

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon denied clemency for Franklin on Monday, saying he had committed "merciless acts of violence, fueled by hate."

In addition to the killings, Franklin admitted to the attempted assassinations of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt in 1978 and civil rights leader Vernon Jordan in 1980. Flynt, who was paralyzed by Franklin's bullet, has called for clemency for Franklin, saying "the government has no business at all being in the business of killing people."

Battle over drugs used

One of Franklin's final legal maneuvers focused on the drug used for the lethal injection, pentobarbital. His attorneys argued that the injection would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a stay of execution, finding Franklin's lawyers showed the use of pentobarbital carried "a high risk of contamination and prolonged, unnecessary pain beyond that which is required to achieve death."

An intimate discussion with a serial killer

"Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty and plaintiffs' medical evidence and allegations, a stay is necessary to ensure that the defendants' last act against Franklin is not permanent, irremediable cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment," Laughrey wrote.

Another federal judge granted a second stay Tuesday, based on a separate defense petition contesting Franklin's competency.

"The Court concludes that a stay of execution is required to permit a meaningful review," U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson wrote.

The state appealed both stays to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided early Wednesday that Franklin's lawyers had not provided enough evidence to warrant a stay.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Franklin's requests to step in and halt the execution.

Missouri had planned to use propofol, the surgical anesthetic made infamous by the death of pop star Michael Jackson. But Nixon reversed that decision after being warned that the European Union -- whose members forbid capital punishment -- might halt shipments of the drug, leading to shortages for medical purposes.

Missouri and other states that conduct executions have had to scramble for new drugs after European-based manufacturers banned American prisons from using their drugs in executions.

In October, the state announced it would use pentobarbital, which would be provided by an unnamed compounding pharmacy. Franklin's lawyers argued that would raise the risk of contamination and a painful death.

CNN's Dana Ford and Josh Levs contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would undoubtedly be "complicated." Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit change that?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT