JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Joseph Paul Franklin, the serial killer with at least six victims to his name and suspected in a dozen more murders, currently awaits his Nov. 20 execution date at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri.
His most famous victim, Larry Flynt — whom Franklin paralyzed in an unsuccessful assassination attempt in 1978 — is suing the state of Missouri to unseal testimony and documents related to Franklin’s execution. Flynt is also the prolific founder and owner of Larry Flynt Productions, a company that produces pornographic materials.
Franklin’s execution and the scheduled executions of several other convicted killers, are marred in a debate in Missouri and other states about how to go about carrying out death sentence convictions in light of recent changes to the supply and availability of commonly-used execution drugs.
After unsuccessfully attempting to use the common anesthetic propofol to execute criminals, Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon directed the department to find a new solution. But when the Department announced its change and a new drug, it also announced new protocol for those involved in executions. A broader definition of what constitutes an “execution team,” has barred the public from knowing the identity of the company supplying Missouri’s drug, or the name of the executioner and anesthesiologist that approved the new method.
“The state claims that its executions satisfy Eighth Amendment standards because their execution team includes a board-certified anesthesiologist,” says Tony Rothert, the ACLU-MO’s legal director. “However, the American Board of Anesthesiology forbids its members from participating in capital punishment. If M3 is certified, it is only because the state is abetting him in hiding his identity from the board.The public should be skeptical of his testimony, but because his testimony is sealed, we do not even know what he said.”
“I find it totally absurd that a government that forbids killing is allowed to use that same crime as punishment,” says Larry Flynt in a press release from the ACLU who filed the suit on his behalf. “But, until the death penalty is abolished, the public has a right to know the details about how the state plans to execute people on its behalf.”