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Mo. Carries Out Execution After Court Vacates Stays

Joseph Paul Franklin.
(Missouri Department of Corrections)
Joseph Paul Franklin.

Update 7:52 a.m 11/20/13:

Missouri carried out the execution of Joseph Paul Franklin a little after 6 a.m. He was put to death after courts overturned Tuesday's stays of execution.

Yesterday, two federal judges issued stays of execution.

The judges took issue with how the state was getting its lethal injection drug from a secret source not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and questioned whether the inmate was mentally competent to be executed.

The state of Missouri, led by Attorney General Chris Koster, appealed quickly.

Overnight, an appeals court threw out both the stays.

At 5:20 this morning, the Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, and Missouri put Franklin to death an hour later.

He was the first to be executed under Missouri’s controversial new rule that hides the supplier of the drug.

Another inmate is set to be executed on December 11.

Update 6:27 a.m 11/20/13: Joseph Paul Franklin has been put to death. As the Associated press writes:

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.

Update 5:44 a.m 11/20/13: Overnight, Franklin's stays were overturned. As the Associated Press writes:

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition early Wednesday seeking a stay of execution for white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, who was set to die in Missouri. The Supreme Court's decision upholds a federal appeals court's ruling that lifted a stay of execution a judge had issued earlier.

The state's death warrant permits it to carry out Franklin's execution anytime Wednesday.

Update 6:13 p.m. 11/19/13: The state has filed an appeal to the federal judge's stay. We'll have more as it develops.

Earlier story:

A white supremacist and convicted killer's motion to stay his execution has been granted by a federal judge. 

Joseph Paul Franklin was scheduled to be executed just after midnight Tuesday. He would have been the first to be put to death using Missouri's new execution protocol.

Here is the decision straight from judge Nanette Laughrey's opinion, which was issued about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. You can read a few portions we highlighted by clicking on "Notes" below.

Both Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Supreme Court had rejected previous efforts to delay Franklin's execution.

Franklin and the other inmates on Missouri's death initially challenged the state's execution protocol back in 2012, when officials announced they would use a single large dose of propofol rather than a previous three-drug cocktail. It's been changed several times since then, and state officials argued that because propofol was no longer being used, Franklin's challenge was moot. Laughrey disagreed.

"While the facts have changed – both in minor and significant ways – there is clearly an overarching controversy concerning the Department’s method of execution," she wrote.

Laughrey also ruled that Franklin and the other inmates could successfully prove that using a drug from a compounding pharmacy would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

"Defendants cannot repeatedly change the execution protocol, including within five days of a scheduled execution, and rely on Plaintiffs’ lack of time to research the protocol’s effects when arguing that Plaintiffs have not presented a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. What research Plaintiffs have produced in the little time afforded to them suggests a high risk of contamination and prolonged, unnecessary pain beyond that which is required to achieve death. Plaintiffs have proven that the Department’s protocol “presents a substantial risk of inflicting unnecessary pain,” and therefore, Plaintiffs have shown a significant possibility of success on the merits of their Eighth Amendment claim."

 Laughrey also expressed frustration with the constant changes to the execution protocol.

"Defendants’ protocol has been a frustratingly moving target. In the face of such a grave consequence as that of the death penalty, this Court declines to reward Defendants’ attempts to prevent Plaintiffs from fully litigating their claims," she wrote.

The Missouri Department of Corrections did not immediately return a request for comment.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter:@csmcdaniel

Copyright 2013 St. Louis Public Radio

Kelsey Proud is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she earned a Convergence (Multimedia) Journalism degree. She has worked at PBS Interactive in Washington, D.C., MSN UK News in London and is a social media enthusiast. Kelsey feels journalism is truly a public service and hopes her work enhances community and reaches those who need information most. Though she's "from" Chicago, Kelsey has also lived in several different regions of the United States, including periods of time in North Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico and Illinois. Her extended family has roots in Boone and Audrain counties in Missouri, too. She is a wannabe chef and globe trekker, former competitive golfer and band-ie (trumpet), and honorary Missourian.
Rachel Lippmann
Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.
Chris McDaniel started at St. Louis Public Radio as a political reporter, predominantly covering the race between Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Todd Akin. Before coming to St. Louis, Chris worked at NPR stations in Louisville, Kentucky and Columbia, Missouri, and his work has been broadcast on NPR’s national newscasts. He is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri, where he studied journalism and political science. He is also the winner of the 2011 PAX East Super Smash Bros. Tournament. Chris enjoys dogs, anything by Cormac McCarthy, and listeners like you.
Julie Bierach is the morning newscaster/news producer at St. Louis Public Radio. She was born and raised in St. Louis and graduated from Southeast Missouri State University. She started her career in Cape Girardeau, Mo. as a student announcer.