He was acquitted of but later admitted to the sniper shooting of then-Urban League President Vernon Jordan in Fort Wayne in 1980.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday refused to halt the execution, denying Franklin's clemency request and calling his crime in Missouri a "cowardly and calculated shooting."
The Missouri crime "was only one of many senseless acts of extreme violence that Franklin, motivated by racial and religious intolerance, committed against numerous victims across the country — from Tennessee and Ohio to Utah and Wisconsin," Nixon said in a statement.
Franklin's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said she was disappointed by the governor's decision and has spent the days leading up to the execution asking various courts and Nixon to intervene. Clemency from Nixon, a Democrat, seemed a long shot given his long history of support for the death penalty. He was also attorney general in 1997 when Franklin was tried, convicted and sentenced in the St. Louis County case.
However, Nixon did issue a stay last month, days before convicted killer Allen Nicklasson was scheduled to die. That decision was in response to concerns raised about Missouri's plan to use propofol as the lethal drug. The European Union had threatened to limit export if propofol was used in the execution, potentially creating a nationwide shortage of the popular anesthetic.
The Missouri Department of Corrections revised its protocol days later, changing to pentobarbital that will be made through a compounding pharmacy. Because the compounding pharmacy is part of the execution team, few details about it have been made public.
Herndon filed a new appeal Monday with the Missouri Supreme Court, citing concerns about Franklin's mental illness and the state's lethal injection process. Herndon has raised questions about what could happen if the drug doesn't work properly, potentially leaving the inmate in pain or brain-damaged but not dead. The state insists its protocol is constitutional.
"I was encouraged by the way (Nixon) reacted to the propofol and didn't let that happen," Herndon said. "I think there are similar, if not more serious, concerns with the new protocol."
Franklin traveled the country on a killing spree from 1977 to 1980. He is believed responsible for up to 20 killings and was convicted in eight murders. The St. Louis County killing was the only case that landed him on death row.
Herndon said Franklin is a paranoid schizophrenic who now regrets his crimes, having had a change of heart after serving time alongside black inmates. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, Franklin insisted he no longer hates blacks or Jews. While he was held at St. Louis County Jail, he said he interacted with blacks at the jail, "and I saw they were people just like us."
In addition to the killings, Franklin has admitted shooting and wounding Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
Flynt, paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting in 1978, has also sued to stop the execution because he doesn't believe the death penalty is a deterrent.
Other acts linked to FranklinThese shootings and a bombing have been linked by authorities to Joseph Paul Franklin:
July 29, 1977: A synagogue in Chattanooga, Tenn., is bombed. On June 13, 1984, Franklin confessed and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
Aug. 7, 1977: Alphonse Manning and Toni Schwenn, both 23, are shot dead while shopping in Madison, Wis. He was black; she was white. In February 1986, Franklin was convicted of the murders and sentenced to two life terms.
Oct. 7, 1977: Gerald Gordon, 42, and William Ash, 30, are shot by a sniper outside a synagogue in Richmond Heights, Mo. Gordon died, Ash was wounded. Franklin was found guilty and is scheduled to die Wednesday for the crime.
July 29, 1978: William Bryant Tatum, 22, and Nancy Diane Hilton, 18, are shot and killed with a shotgun while walking out of a Pizza Hut in a Chattanooga suburb. He was black; she was white.
March 6, 1978: Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his attorney, Gene Reeves, are both shot and wounded by a sniper outside a courthouse in Lawrenceville, Ga. Franklin was charged in the shooting but never tried. He told The Star he did it because Flynt published sexually explicit photos of a racially mixed couple.
July 29, 1979: Harold McGiver, 29, a black man, is shot dead by a sniper as he leaves his job at a Taco Bell restaurant in suburban Chattanooga, Tenn. Franklin was convicted.
Aug. 8, 1979: Raymond Taylor, 28, a black man, is mortally wounded by a sniper while eating at a Burger King in Falls Church, Va. Franklin is a suspect.
Jan. 12, 1980: Lawrence E. Reese, 22, a black man, is shot and killed by a sniper while waiting in line at a Church's Chicken outlet in Indianapolis. Franklin is a suspect.
Jan 14, 1980: Leo Watkins, 19, a black man, is shot and killed by a sniper while helping his father at a northeast Indianapolis market. Franklin was charged in March 1981 with murdering Watkins and Reese, but the cases were dropped after he was convicted in Utah. The Star reported that Franklin admits both killings.
April 23, 1980: Myron Brooks, 32, and his girlfriend, Barbara Evans, 26, are shot and wounded in Indianapolis after confronting the driver of a car who had been following them. Brooks is black; Evans is white. The Star said Franklin admits the shooting.
May 29, 1980: Urban League President Vernon Jordan is shot and wounded by a sniper in Fort Wayne. Franklin is indicted but a jury acquits him on Aug. 17, 1982. He later admitted the shooting to reporters from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Star.
June 6, 1980: Dante Brown, 13, and Darrell Laine, 14, are shot and killed by a sniper as they walk on a railroad overpass in Cincinnati. Both were black. Franklin is convicted.
June 15, 1980: Kathleen Mikula, 16, and Arthur Smothers, 22, are shot and killed by a sniper while walking together in Johnstown, Pa. She was white; he was black. Franklin is a suspect.
Aug. 20, 1980: Ted Fields, 20, and David Martin, 18, both black, are shot and killed by a sniper in Salt Lake City while jogging with two white women. In 1981, Franklin was convicted of violating their civil rights and sentenced to consecutive life terms. On Aug. 27, 1981, a Utah state court jury convicted him of both murders and he was sentenced to two more life terms.
Source: The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News, The Associated Press