Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Urge Death for Racist Sniper

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Urge Death for Racist Sniper

Article excerpt

The jury deliberated 65 minutes before agreeing that Joseph Paul Franklin, who killed a man outside a synagogue in Richmond Heights in 1977, should die by lethal injection.

Joseph Paul Franklin told a St. Louis County jury on Friday that if he did not get the death penalty for a sniper killing in 1977, he would kill more people.

Jurors believed him and recommended he be sentenced to death. The jurors deliberated for 65 minutes, with lunch served during that time, before recommending that Franklin die by injection. It took jurors 39 minutes Thursday to find him guilty. Franklin, 46, was convicted of killing Gerald Gordon, 42, on Oct. 8, 1977. Gordon was leaving a bar mitzvah at the Brith Sholom Knesseth Israel Congregation in Richmond Heights. Franklin has said the slaying was part of his campaign to kill Jews. The jury also recommended that Franklin be sentenced to two life sentences for wounding two other men during the synagogue sniping. Getting sentenced to death was Franklin's goal. The self-described white supremacist made a closing statement to the jury before they left to decide his fate. "And it would just be a total farce if you guys did not sentence me to death," he said. "So that's all I'm asking." When the jury recommended the death verdict, Franklin did not say anything and only nodded his head three or four times. During the three-day murder trial, jurors heard that Franklin wanted to kill as many Jews as possible and had traveled to different states to do so. He ended up in St. Louis in October 1977. He selected the Richmond Heights synagogue out of the Yellow Pages, scouted out the territory to plan his escape and then waited for several hours on Oct. 8 until people came out of the synagogue. Then he opened fire. Franklin and prosecutor Doug Sidel noted that Franklin already was serving six consecutive life sentences for four other murders - he killed an interracial couple in Wisconsin in 1977 and killed two black men in Salt Lake City in 1980 as they jogged with white women. Sidel, in his closing statement, called Franklin "cold-blooded, cowardly and bigoted." "This act was absolutely sick and depraved," Sidel said. …

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