Convicted serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin executed

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BONNE TERRE, MO (KTVI) - Convicted serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was put to death Wednesday morning.  Prison officials say Franklin died at 6:17 a.m.

His death followed a night of pleas to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court vacated two stays of execution for Franklin.

Franklin was supposed to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but court actions delayed the execution.  Two stays of execution were issued, but were overruled.

Franklin's attorney appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay Wednesday morning, but the high court vacated the stays.

Franklin, 63, has been on Missouri's death row for the 1977 sniper murder of Gerald Gordon, 42.   Gordon was leaving a Barmitzah ceremony at a Richmond Heights synagogue when Franklin opened fire, killing Gordon and wounding two other men.

Franklin was convicted of that murder and seven other killings. But authorities believe he may have murdered some 20 people between 1977 and 1980.  We're told he targeted African-Americans and Jews.

Franklin also admitted to shooting Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Civil Rights leader Vernon Jordan.

Franklin told FOX 2's Tom O'Neal that he was indoctrinated by Nazi literature, but he says he is a changed man now and made his case about why he should be allowed to live.

One of the earlier stays questioned the drug being used for the execution.  The other talked about Franklin's mental state.  The drug in question is pento barbital. It's used to euthanize animals.  This is the first time it's been used in Missouri for an execution.