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Judge Stays Serial Killer's Execution

(CNN) -- A federal court has granted a stay of execution for white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Missouri.

Updated coverage: 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Joseph Paul Franklin had been set to die shortly after midnight Tuesday
  • He faced execution for a 1977 killing outside a St. Louis synagogue
  • He has been blamed for a total of 22 killings and the shootings of two prominent figtures

(CNN) -- A federal court has granted a stay of execution for white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Missouri.

Franklin is on death row for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue in St. Louis. He been blamed for a total of 22 killings between 1977 and 1980 in a bid to start a race war.

He is challenging Missouri's decision to use the drug phenobarbital in its lethal injection protocol, arguing it would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a stay on Tuesday, finding Franklin's lawyers showed the use of phenobarbital carried "a high risk of contamination and prolonged, unnecessary pain beyond that which is required to achieve death."

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"Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty and plaintiffs' medical evidence and allegations, a stay is necessary to ensure that the defendants' last act against Franklin is not permanent, irremediable cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment," Laughrey wrote.

Franklin had been scheduled to be put to death at shortly after 12 a.m. Wednesday (1 a.m. ET) at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, about 60 miles south of St. Louis.

In addition to the killings, Franklin admitted to the attempted assassinations of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt in 1978 and civil rights leader Vernon Jordan in 1980. Flynt, who was paralyzed by Franklin's bullet, has called for clemency for Franklin because "The government has no business at all being in the business of killing people."

States scramble for lethal injection drugs



(CNN) -- A federal court has granted a stay of execution for white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Missouri.

Franklin is on Death Row for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue in St. Louis. He is blamed for killing 22 people between 1977 and 1980 in a bid to start a race war, as well as the attempted assassination of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt in 1978.

He is challenging Missouri's decision to use the drug phenobarbital in its lethal injection protocol, arguing that it would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a stay, finding Franklin "has been afforded no time to research the risk of pain associated with the department's new protocol."

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