WASHINGTON – A US appeals court on Wednesday lifted a stay of execution for a white supremacist serial killer just hours after judges granted it, CNN reported.
Joseph Paul Franklin, who was behind a string of racist killings between 1977 and 1980, was spared Tuesday night just hours before his planned execution by lethal injection.
A Missouri judge had granted him a stay of execution, ruling that the use of pentobarbital for a lethal injection carried a high risk of “unnecessary pain beyond that which is required to achieve death.”
But the state appealed and early Wednesday the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Franklin’s lawyers had not provided enough evidence to warrant a stay of execution, CNN said.
It was not immediately clear if Franklin’s attorneys would appeal to the US Supreme Court.
CNN reported that with an execution warrant window of 24 hours, Franklin could still be put to death on Wednesday if no further legal action was taken.
A second federal judge, Carol Jackson, on Tuesday granted a separate stay on grounds that Franklin was not mentally competent.
Franklin, described as being motivated by racism, is on death row for the killing of Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue in St. Louis, Missouri in 1977.
He was never tried for shooting Flynt, 70, who publishes pornographic films and magazines, notably Hustler, and is wheelchair-bound because of the shooting.
Flynt wrote last month that he would like to “inflict damage” on Franklin but did not want to see him die.
He said he had been targeted by Franklin “because of a photo spread I ran in Hustler magazine featuring a black man and a white woman. He had bombed several synagogues… He hated blacks, he hated Jews.”
“As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself,” Flynt wrote in an opinion column in The Hollywood Reporter.
Franklin, who is serving several life sentences, is blamed for the deaths of 22 people during a killing spree between 1977 and 1980.
“That’s approximately it,” Franklin said on the number of his victims in a recent interview with CNN.
He said his goal was to “get a race war started” and the enemies were Jews, blacks and interracial couples.
“I felt like I was at war. The survival of the white race was at stake,” said Franklin, who sports long, unruly hair.
“I consider it my mission, my three-year mission. Same length of time Jesus was on his mission, from the time he was 30 to 33,” Franklin said from behind a glass partition at a prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
He blamed his hatred on a poor upbringing and a family that abused him and stunted his mental development. AFP