US neo-Nazi Joseph Franklin who targeted black and Jewish people in a nationwide killing spree executed in Missouri

63-year-old was convicted of seven other racially motivated murders after killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting

Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, was today put to death in Missouri, the state's first execution using a single drug, pentobarbital. 

Franklin, 63, was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting at a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977. Franklin was convicted of seven other murders across the country and claimed responsibility for up to 20 overall, but the Missouri case was the only one that brought a death sentence.

Franklin, 63, was sentenced to die at 12.01am (05.01 GMT) today for killing 42-year-old Gordon in a sniper attack outside a synagogue in 1977 but he was granted a delay of execution just hours before his scheduled death.

The murder of Gordon was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country spree from 1977 to 1980.

He was convicted of seven other murders, but the Missouri case was the only one resulting in a death sentence. Franklin also has admitted to shooting and wounding civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who has been paralysed from the waist down since the 1978 attack.

Franklin confessed to targeting the porn baron because of a double page spread published in Hustler showing a black man and a white woman together.

But in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, Franklin, who has been incarcerated since 1980, insisted he no longer hates black people or Jews.

Judge Nanette Laughrey had ruled on a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 20 other death row inmates challenging Missouri's decision to use a single drug, pentobarbital, arguing it would violate a constitutional ban on unusual and cruel forms of punishment. Franklin had been scheduled to die today.

The ruling criticises the timing of the changes to how the state administers capital punishment, looking specifically at the plan to use the drug for the first time ever.

The judge described the execution protocol and the manner in which it has changed repeatedly as a "frustratingly moving target.”

“Throughout this litigation, the details of the execution protocol have been illusive at best,” the judge wrote.

“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.”

Joseph Paul Franklin in photos taken in 2005, 2007 and 2012 Joseph Paul Franklin in photos taken in 2005, 2007 and 2012
The state appealed the ruling to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals, though it wasn't clear how quickly that court would rule. A second federal judge, weighing a separate appeal contesting Franklin's competency to be executed based on his mental illness, also granted a delay and said the issue needs “a meaningful review".

Franklin's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said earlier the execution warrant allowed it to be carried out anytime today.

She said Franklin, who had been diagnosed as mentally ill, did not seem to fully understand the stay.

“He was happy,” she said. “I'm not really convinced that he totally understands that he was going to die.”

Like other states, Missouri has previously used a cocktail of three-drugs to conduct executions. But drugmakers were reluctant to sell those drugs to prisons and corrections departments, so in 2012 Missouri announced a new one-drug execution protocol using propofol.

But Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections to produce a new drug after an outcry from the medical profession over planned use of the popular anesthetic in an execution. Most propofol is made in Europe, and the European Union had threatened to limit exports of it.

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste had no immediate comment about the ruling.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
techProbably not, this lamp is secretly live-tweeting conversations from a McDonalds
News
Ain't that a kick in the head: a still from Jared Frank's money-spinning video
mediaTrain Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video
Sport
The redeveloped Anfield will eventually hold 58,800 supporters
footballClub marking return to Champions League elite
Arts & Entertainment
musicPaul Weller says ‘greedy touts’ have wrecked vinyl promotion
Voices
peopleWhat better hero for Britain than Saint George?
Sport
Stephen Hendry has not played a ranking event for two seasons
Stephen Hendry poised for a sensational return to snooker
News
Fresh hope: Ruth Womak and her dog Jess
educationHow one housing association's remarkable initiative gave hope
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Construction Solicitor – Surrey

Excellent Salary Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a rare high level opportunity ...

Construction Solicitor NQ+ Manchester

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: This is an excellent opportunity within...

Corporate Finance

£80000 - £120000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: US QUALI...

Banking / Finance Associate - City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: Banking / Finance Associate - We have an exce...

Day In a Page

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents
Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?