White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who targeted black and Jewish people in a nationwide killing spree, has been put to death in Missouri.
Joseph Paul Franklin, 63, was executed for shooting dead a man and wounding two others outside a synagogue in 1977.
He was convicted of seven other racially motivated murders. He claimed to have committed 20 in total.
Joseph Paul Franklin’s execution came after the Supreme Court upheld an appeal court’s decision to lift a stay of execution.
In 1978, Joseph Paul Franklin shot Larry Flynt, leaving him partially paralyzed, after seeing a picture of a mixed-race couple in one of his magazines.
However, Larry Flynt – who opposes the death penalty – had sued to prevent Joseph Paul Franklin’s execution.
In a recent interview with the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Joseph Paul Franklin said he had renounced his racist views.
He said his motivation had been “illogical” and was partly a consequence of an abusive upbringing.
Joseph Paul Franklin said he had interacted with black people in jail, adding: “I saw they were people just like us.”
His lawyers’ appeal focused on a dispute over the type of lethal injections that Missouri uses in its executions.
US and EU manufacturers have been cutting off the supply of drugs used for lethal injections in recent years in an attempt to distance themselves from executions.
As a result, Missouri, which long used a lethal three-drug cocktail for executions, has changed the drugs it uses three times in as many months.
The single drug used in the execution of Joseph Paul Franklin was pentobarbital, a short-acting barbiturate that can induce death in high doses.
On Tuesday, Joseph Paul Franklin’s lawyers won a stay of execution when they argued in federal court that using this drug would violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
However, early on Wednesday, a federal appeals court overturned the stay of execution. Its ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court, sealing Joseph Paul Franklin’s fate.
An anti-capital punishment group, Supporters of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, attended a candlelight vigil for Joseph Paul Franklin outside a church in the city of St Louis.
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