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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas