BONNE TERRE, Mo.: White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been put to death in Missouri. It was the state’s first execution in nearly three years.
The 63-year-old Franklin targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980. He was executed Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting outside 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. The Missouri case was the only one that brought a death sentence. The execution was the first in Missouri using a single drug, pentobarbital.
Franklin’s fate was sealed early Wednesday when the US Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court decision overturning stays granted Tuesday.
The decision upheld a federal appeals court’s ruling that lifted a stay of execution issued late Tuesday, just hours before Franklin had been scheduled to die by lethal injection for killing 42-year-old Gerald Gordon in a sniper attack outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
Franklin’s lawyer had launched three separate appeals: One claiming his life should be spared because he is mentally ill; one claiming faulty jury instruction when he was given the death penalty; and one raising concern about Missouri’s first-ever use of a new execution drug, pentobarbital.
The rulings lifting the stay were issued without comment.
The state’s death warrant for Franklin allows the execution to be carried out anytime Wednesday.
Like other states, Missouri had long used a three-drug execution method. Drugmakers stopped selling those drugs to prisons and corrections departments, so in April 2012 Missouri announced a new one-drug execution protocol using propofol. The state planned to use propofol for an execution last month.
But Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a new drug after the European Union threatened to limit exports of the popular anesthetic if the United States used it in an execution, prompting an outcry among U.S. medical professionals.