EXECUTED: Joseph Franklin standing trial in 1998 (PA)
AN INFAMOUS racist murderer who also shot and paralysed Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt has been executed for his crimes by the US state of Missouri.
Joseph Franklin, 63, was given a lethal injection today as punishment for his conviction of fatally shooting a man and injuring two others in 1977 outside of a synagogue.
Known for his white supremacist views, he targeted black people and Jews and was found guilty of seven other racially motivated murders.
Franklin is reported to have claimed he killed 20 people during his lifetime.
He murdered two black men in Utah, two black teenagers in Ohio and an interracial couple in Wisconsin.
His most famous victim is Flynt, whom he shot in 1978 because the adult magazine publisher depicted a scene featuring a mixed-raced couple. The attack left the publishing mogul paralysed from the waist down and needing a wheelchair.
Franklin also admitted to the non-fatal shooting of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, but, like that of Flynt, was not convicted.
In a valiant attempt at mercy, Flynt, who does not agree with the death penalty, launched a lawsuit against the state in a bid to stop his shooter from being executed.
Franklin’s execution had been delayed by his legal team which argued for a stay of execution in court, claiming the single drug – pentobarbital – designated for his lethal injection would violate a constitutional ban on cruel punishment.
But the stay of execution was overturned early this morning by a federal appeals court, and, after the US Supreme Court upheld the decision, Franklin was put to death.
In an interview published on Monday in the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, Franklin said he was a changed man and no longer harboured a “illogical” racist outlook.
Speaking in a telephone interview, the serial killer said: “I’m pro-Semitic instead of anti-Semitic.”
Franklin blamed a troubled upbringing and association with neo-Nazi groups for his murderous past, but insisted time in prison had changed how he viewed black people.
“[I] interacted with a lot of blacks who work there… and I saw they were people just like us. And one of the good things about blacks: They forgive and forget”, he added.
The killer, who said meditation helped him find peace, said he would ask prison guards to donate his last meal to a homeless person or hungry child.