BONNE TERRE, Mo. (KSDK) – White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was put to death Wednesday at 6:17 a.m. It's the first execution in Missouri in almost three years.
Prison officials say Franklin had no final words nor written statement. After receiving a go-ahead from Gov. Jay Nixon's office at 6:05 a.m., Franklin was injected with pentobarbital at 6:07 a.m., and his official cause of death is listed 10 minutes later.
A woman who spoke to Franklin Tuesday said he told her "either way I'm good, I have peace," in regards to the uncertainty surrounding his execution. Franklin did invite witnesses to his execution, but they left before it happened.
The 63-year-old targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980. He was executed in a state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a snider shooting outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
Franklin was convicted of seven other murders across the country, and claimed responsibility for up to 20 overall. The Missouri case was the only one that brought a death sentence.
"I ask that Missourians remember Gerald Gordon at this time, and keep his family and the victims of Franklin's many other crimes in your thoughts and prayers," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement released after the execution.
A protest area was set up outside the prison for the execution. One person was there last night, and said delays in the execution kept others from attending.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled early Wednesday to uphold a federal appeals court decision overturning a stay of execution granted Tuesday, just hours before he was initially scheduled to die.
Franklin's lawyer had launched three separate appeals: One claiming his life should be spared because he is mentally ill; one claiming faulty jury instruction when he was given the death penalty; and one raising concern about Missouri's first-ever use of a new execution drug, pentobarbital.
Like other states, Missouri had long used a three-drug execution method. Drugmakers stopped selling those drugs to prisons and corrections departments, so in April 2012 Missouri announced a new one-drug execution protocol using propofol. The state planned to use propofol for an execution last month.
But Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a new drug after the European Union threatened to limit exports of the popular anesthetic if the United States used it in an execution, prompting an outcry among U.S. medical professionals.
Missouri then joined other states in selecting pentobarbital as the drug of choice for executions, produced by a compounding pharmacy. Texas switched to a lethal, single dose of the sedative in 2012. South Dakota has carried out two executions using the drug. Georgia has said it's also taking that route.
The appeals and supreme court rulings overturned U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey decision late Tuesday. She held that the Missouri Department of Corrections "has not provided any information about the certification, inspection history, infraction history, or other aspects of the compounding pharmacy or of the person compounding the drug." She noted that the execution protocol, which has changed repeatedly, "has been a frustratingly moving target."
Franklin's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said at the time that his mental illness was likely keeping him from comprehending the developments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.