A federal judge in Missouri has halted the execution of racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, declaring that a lawsuit over which drug the state uses to kill inmates must first be resolved, reported the USA Today.
Franklin, 63, was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. CT (1:01 a.m. ET) for the 1977 sniper murder of Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue near St. Louis. He has admitted to killing as many as 20 people as well as shooting civil rights activist Vernon Jordan and Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
He would have been the first prisoner to be executed with pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize animals.
In her 14-page ruling late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey criticized the timing of the state's changes to its lethal-injection procedures, stating that "details of the execution protocol have been illusive at best."
The Missouri Department of Corrections had planned to be the first state to use propofol, a common anesthetic. But after the medical profession objected, Gov. Jay Nixon halted the execution of another inmate last month and directed the department to use another drug. Corrections officials settled on pentobarbital, made by a compounding pharmacy, but released few details, citing privacy laws protecting execution teams.
"Franklin has been afforded no time to research the risk of pain associated with the Department's new protocol, the quality of the pentobarbital provided, and the record of the source of the pentobarbital," she wrote.
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