After a dizzying 11th-hour back-and-forth, the Supreme Court of the United States this morning denied a stay of execution for a racist serial killer linked to 20 murders; Missouri executed Joseph Franklin shortly thereafter, at 6:17am local time, reports the AP. It marked the state's first execution in almost three years, and its first using a single drug, the pentobarbital. Franklin had been granted a stay of execution late yesterday by a federal judge concerned by Missouri's choice of that controversial execution drug; a federal appeals court then lifted that stay, and Franklin's lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, reports the AP.
Early today, the high court rejected Franklin's appeal, overturning the first judge's ruling that Missouri must resolve a lawsuit from Franklin and 20 other inmates before it can use pentobarbital for lethal injections, reports the New York Daily News. Missouri's Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon had already rejected appeals. Franklin, a white supremacist who targeted blacks, Jews, and interracial couples in a three-year killing spree that began in 1977, was the shooter who paralyzed Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in 1978. Franklin was sentenced to die for the sniper killing of a man outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977. He was convicted of seven other murders and has confessed to or been charged with a dozen more. Flynt—who was targeted because his magazine depicted interracial couples—previously said he didn't want Franklin executed. (Read more Joseph Franklin stories.)