White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been put to death in Missouri. The 63-year-old Franklin targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, including two boys in Bond Hill.
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 21 other death row inmates challenging Missouri's execution protocol must first be resolved before Franklin's execution can move forward.
Franklin's fate was sealed early Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court decision overturning stays granted Tuesday.
He was executed Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
This was one of as many as 20 killings Franklin committed targeting blacks and Jews in a cross-country spree from 1977 to 1980.
Two of those killings took place in Cincinnati. Franklin gunned down 14-year-old Darrell Lane and his cousin, 13-year-old Dante Evans Brown, as the boys were walking to a Bond Hill grocery store.
Just days ago, Franklin spoke from death row about his three-year killing spree. He says he's no longer a racist, that he was wrong and he's sorry for his crimes. He also added this:
"Most people out there, most people are heading to a burning hell and they don't know it," said Franklin
Do you think something lies out there for you on the other side after Nov 20?
"Yeah, but it's not a burning hell because I'm serving the Lord though."
Hamilton County Judge Melissa Powers was an assistant prosecutor at the time Franklin was on the trial in Cincinnati. Powers was able to get Franklin to confess to the murders of the boys and two others.
Hamilton County Courthouse has tried some high profile cases, one of them being Franklin's case. For judge Melissa Powers, the conversations she had with him as an assistant professor are unforgettable.
Powers still has a stack of files, boxes and documents from the Joseph Franklin case. All of it is related to the short time she spent with him inside a Missouri jail as Franklin confessed to the murders of Darrell Lane and Dante Evans Brown.
Powers spoke to him alone and recorded the conversation on a tape recorder.
"Definitely when he walked in the room, my breath was taken away," says Powers.
For years, police had suspected Franklin carried out the sniper shooting that left the two teen boys dead.
"He spoke in a tone that was without any emotion, without any change in his voice. Just very matter of fact," explains Powers. "And the entire time, as I was talking to him I was thinking to myself, I had to remind myself to breathe, I was holding my breath because it was frightening."
It was the moment police had what they needed, closure for a case that had dominated headlines in the city. But for Powers, it was a conversation that left her forever unchanged.
"My first reaction was that I felt that I sold my soul to the devil," explains Powers. "But there as a bigger purpose and a bigger goal in mind. And I felt that unfortunately it was necessary to get that confession."
Powers also tells FOX19 that the case put her on a direct path to becoming a judge in Hamilton County. She says it altered how she saw her role in criminal justice.
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