Larry Flynt, the controversial publisher of pornographic magazines known for pushing the boundaries of free speech, now is pushing the state of Missouri to open up about its lethal injection plans.
Joseph Paul Franklin, who has claimed to be the sniper who shot and paralyzed Flynt in 1978, is scheduled to be put to death later this month for a killing outside a St. Louis-area synagogue.
But Flynt, who is convinced Franklin was the man who shot him, doesn’t want Franklin to die. He would prefer that Franklin suffer the misery of life spent in a tiny prison cell. To the 71-year-old Flynt, that would be “far harsher than the quick release of a lethal injection.”
“I have had many years in this wheelchair to think about this very topic,” Flynn said in court documents filed recently in federal court in Kansas City.
Flynt is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Franklin and other death row inmates challenging Missouri’s lethal injection protocol, including the secrecy that surrounds it.
Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union are representing Franklin. In court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, they argued on his behalf that Missourians have a right to know details about the state’s execution plans.
“I find it totally absurd that a government that forbids killing is allowed to use that same crime as punishment,” Flynt said in a statement released Monday by the ACLU. “But, until the death penalty is abolished, the public has a right to know the details about how the state plans to execute people on its behalf.”
Flynt has been on record as saying that he didn’t want to see Franklin executed but instead believes he should spend the rest of his life in prison.
The shooting outside a Georgia courthouse while Flynt was on trial for obscenity left Flynt with permanent spinal damage and confined him to a wheelchair. Though he confessed, Franklin has not been prosecuted for the crime.
In a previously published article that was attached to federal court filings, Flynt said he has never seen Franklin face to face.
“I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me,” Flynt said. “But I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die.”
Franklin is among nearly two-dozen Missouri death row inmates who have filed a federal lawsuit raising questions about the constitutionality of the state’s plan to use the execution drug pentobarbital, which it intends to obtain from a compounding pharmacy.
Because the name of the pharmacy is secret, lawyers for the inmates say they have no way of knowing if the drugs it provides are properly manufactured and will work as designed. They allege in court documents that many compounding pharmacies, which do not face the same level of federal oversight as traditional pharmacies, have had a history of problems.
The lawyers argue that the risk of pain from the use of impure or weak drugs would violate the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
In his motion to intervene, Flynt asks the court to open a number of sealed documents, including information about the anesthesiologist the state says is part of its execution team.
He also said that he plans to ask Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to commute Franklin’s death sentence, which is scheduled to be carried out Nov. 20.
Franklin, 63, has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the most notorious and prolific racist serial killers of modern times.” He was sentenced to death in Missouri for killing Gerald Gordon, who was shot in 1977 outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue.
Franklin also was convicted of racially motivated killings in Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin, and was tried and acquitted for the attempted murder of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan Jr.
Franklin claimed that he shot Flynt because he was angered by a photo spread in Flynt’s Hustler magazine depicting a black man and a white woman.