by Sam Levin
Attorney General Chris Koster is calling on the Missouri State Supreme Court to set execution dates for two men on death row -- arguing that the state's supply of its lethal drug will soon expire, meaning further delays could prevent them from administering capital punishment altogether.
The men in question are Joseph Franklin, who was convicted in 1997 of killing Gerald Gordon in St. Louis, and Allen Nicklasson, who was found guilty in 1996 for killing Richard Drummond, a good samaritan who helped him out on the highway.
"For nearly a decade, the mere pendency of federal litigation has been used as an artificial hurdle, unauthorized by law or federal court order, to prevent the State from carrying out the death penalty," Koster says in a statement. "The Court's current position has allowed successive, limited supplies of propofol to reach their expiration dates. Unless the Court changes its current course, the legislature will soon be compelled to fund statutorily-authorized alternative methods of execution to carry out lawful judgments."
Franklin, a white supremacist and serial killer, was convicted a decade-and-a-half ago for murdering Gordon, who was standing in the parking lot of a St. Louis synagogue after a bar mitzvah. He was also convicted for the murder of two African-Americans in Utah, the murder of an interracial couple in Wisconsin and the bombing of a synagogue in Tennessee. Franklin also claimed responsibility for shooting Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, three decades earlier -- after he reportedly became enraged over photos of an interracial couple in the publication.
In Nickalsson's case, Drummond, the good samaritan, had offered him and two others a ride after their car broke down on I-70. Nickalsson reportedly pulled the trigger; Dennis Skillicorn, one of his accomplices, was executed in May 2009 for his role in the crime.
Koster's message today comes on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling last August that issued an order saying the attorney general's request for execution dates was premature "until questions on the use of propofol in executions are settled." (Propofol is the state's execution drug).
Koster's argument is that waiting until federal litigation is complete may prevent Missouri from moving forward with these executions, since the state's remaining supply of the drug will expire by next spring.
Missouri first asked the Court to set an execution date fo Franklin in June 2009, and for Nicklasson in January 2010.