Confessed white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been executed after two federal stays were vacated just after midnight Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughery ruled late Tuesday afternoon that a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 21 other death-row inmates challenging Missouri's execution protocol must first be resolved.
Later in the day, a second federal judge stayed the execution, saying a defense appeal over Franklin's mental competency needs more review.
After an appeal by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the 8th circuit U.S. District Court vacated both stays.
Only the U.S. Supreme Court can intervene to stop Franklin's execution now.
It was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980.