(KTVI)– At the time of this writing, Joseph Paul Franklin is scheduled for execution by lethal injection in less than 36 hours. 12:01am Wednesday, November 20th. Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon has officially denied Franklin’s petition for clemency. There are still a couple of lawsuits pending that could block the execution. Franklin tells me in a jailhouse interview that he is still hoping to be granted a stay and his sentence commuted to life in prison without parole.
(Watch the entire interview below the story)
Franklin was sentenced to death in 1997 for the sniper shooting death of Gerald Gordon in 1977. Gordon was leaving a synagogue in Richmond Heights after a bar mitzvah when Franklin shot him from ambush. He fired several more shots, wounding another man and sending a bullet through the clothes of a third. The third man was not injured.
Franklin made his getaway riding a bike to where he parked his car then took off down I-55.
The 13-year-boy celebrating his bar mitzvah that day is now a 50-year-old man. He asked that I identify him only by Richard, his first name. Richard heard the shots and saw Gordon, a family friend fall to the ground. He says the shots sounded like firecrackers. Richard tells me that Gordon was kind of a jokerand he thought the man might be playing around. He wasn’t. He died later at the old St. Louis County Hospital. Richard calls what Franklin did inexcusable and horrific and feels he got the punishment he deserves.
Franklin tells me that his hate for Jews and African-Americans was fueled by all the Nazi literature he read when he was a teenager. He says Adolph Hitler’s words in Mein Kampf were very influential. He was suspected of several killings, robberies and bombings in the late 1970’s. In 1994, Franklin was serving consecutive life sentences in the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois for killing two black joggers in Utah and an inter-racial couple in Wisconsin, when he confessed to the Richmond Heights synagogue murder. He says he had a dream that he should confess to the Gordon killing. He says another thing was at play also. He had assaulted one of the guards at Marion and was afraid they were going to kill him. The confession got him the death penalty, but also moved him out of Marion to the prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
Major Rick Zweifel of the Richmond Heights Police Department took Franklin’s confession. Zweifel tells me that Franklin’s demeanor was matter of fact when he recounted the details of the killing and showed no remorse. That Franklin said he had five bullets meant to kill five Jews. Zweifel says Franklin told him he was upset because killing Jews was against the law.
Franklin tells me now that he is a totally different person today than he was when he was full of hate and killed Gordon. He says the Lord has changed him. He insists he feels remorse for the crimes he committed and would apologize to Mrs. Gordon if he had the chance.
Franklin confessed to shooting Larry Flynt, the publish of Hustler Magazine. He was upset that the magazine showed inter-racial couples in sexual situations. He was never tried for the shooting that left Flynt paralyzed.
Franklin was acquitted of shooting and wounding Vernon Jordan in 1980. Jordan was then head of the Urban League. Franklin later confessed.
Flynt has filed a suit to block the execution, questioning the qualifications of the person administering the drugs. Franklin feels Flynt supports him, but others say Flynt also wants Franklin to stay in prison and suffer like Flynt has from his wounds.
Although Franklin is hoping for a stay when asked if he felt he deserved to die for his crimes he hesitated and then answered, “to tell you the truth, I actually think I do, yeah.”