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Mo. Carries Out Execution After Court Vacates Stays

(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

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.