Joseph Paul Franklin was to be executed at 12:01 a.m., Nov. 20, 2013. The Department of Corrections has until 11:59 p.m. to carry out the state’s orders, allowing time for any legal descrepancies to be resolved. Here’s a timeline of the last-hours efforts to block his execution and of the execution this morning at the Bonne Terre prison.
4:28 p.m. — Federal Judges Nanette Laughry and Carol Jackson issue two stays of execution, after three appeals filed by Franklin’s attorney. One claimed he was mentally ill and should not be executed because of that, and the other challenged the drug protocol, a lethal dose of pentobarbital, which has never been used for an execution in Missouri. (Several other states have successfully used pentobarbital, which is commonly used to euthanize animals.)
10:30 p.m. — Members of the press and state witnesses are taken to separate holding rooms in the Bonne Terre correctional facility. Members of the press are only allowed to have a pen, notebook, and a watch. In the end, though, neither Franklin nor his victims will have witnesses for the execution.
12:01 a.m. — No new information is available; prison officials stand by to carry out the execution despite the legal proceedings. Franklin remains in a holding cell.
1:30 a.m. (approximately) — Witnesses there for Franklin have left. Corrections staff tells members of the press that included Franklin’s daughter, two members of the clergy, and two witnesses from the Department of Corrections.
2:55 a.m. — Stays are vacated, Franklin appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
4:40 a.m. — Attorney General Chris Koster obtains reversal of appeals in 8th District Court of Appeals.
5:17 — Corrections staff tells press “it’s a go.” Superintendent Dave Dormire confirms, “It does appear the execution will proceed.”
5:20 — Dept. of Corrections Director George Lombardi comes in, reads statement thanking witnesses for their service to the state. Stresses that a lawful execution is about to take place. Dormire reads the protocol: 5 grams of pentobarbital is to be administered. If that does not result in death after 5 minutes, another 5 grams is to be administered. “The entire process should take 10 to 15 minutes.” He says he’ll be back to get the witnesses from the holding area soon.
6 a.m. — Corrections officials tell state witnesses and press it’s time to go to the execution chamber.
Six witnesses: three members of the press, and three private citizens, enter a darkened viewing area. A black curtain is covering a one-way window between them and Franklin. Dormire stands at the door. There is a guard on each side of the curtain.
6:07 — The drug is administered and the guards are ordered to open the curtain. Franklin is strapped onto a gurney, a white sheet pulled up to his chin. His hair is combed behind his ears and he is wearing his glasses. Other than the blinking of his eyes, there is no movement.
6:10 — Franklin’s chest rises and falls with a few deep breaths, he closes his eyes, and swallows. His chest stops rising and falling, it appears he has stopped breathing. His mouth falls open slightly, and his face begins to pale.
6:15 — The guards are ordered to pull the black curtain closed, so that medical staff can check Franklin’s vital signs. “Five grams of pentobarbital was administered,” says Dormire, “and we waited five minutes.”
6:17 — The black curtain opens, and a voice crackles over one of the guards radio’s … “execution complete.” The warden signs the death warrant and slides it under the door.
AUDIO: Mike O’Connell, spokesman for Public Safety, answers questions at a press briefing following the execution (1:05)