LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Larry Flynt, the publisher of the porn magazine Hustler who was shot and paralyzed in 1978, has gone to court to object to the pending execution in Missouri of a convicted serial killer he says fired the bullet that put him in a wheelchair.
Flynt opposes the death penalty and wants Joseph Paul Franklin, who has been convicted of killing eight people from the late 1970s to 1980 in racially motivated attacks, to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Franklin, an avowed white supremacist, is due to be executed on November 20.
Hoping to halt the execution, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed court papers on Flynt’s behalf over the weekend seeking to have a court unseal documents about the qualifications of an anesthesiologist who would take part in the execution.
Flynt said in the filings that he was skeptical that an anesthesiologist on the execution team who has been identified only as “M3” was board certified, because the American Board of Anesthesiology will not certify anyone who takes part in executions.
“I believe that I and other members of the public have a right to review evidence upon which this court relied in making its factual findings about M3, but cannot do so because it is under seal,” Flynt wrote in the papers, filed in federal court for the western district of Missouri.
Flynt, 71, told the court he has a “particular interest” in the pending execution because Franklin confessed to shooting him in 1978 outside a Georgia courtroom where Flynt was standing trial on obscenity charges. Flynt was left paralyzed.
Public support for the death penalty in the United States, while still strong, has waned in recent years, and some states have faced difficulty in obtaining execution drugs because European pharmaceutical companies have cut off supplies.
A spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General declined to comment.
WOULD LOVE ‘AN HOUR IN A ROOM WITH HIM’
Flynt, whose life was portrayed in the 1996 movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” is making the effort to save Franklin’s life even though the Southern California resident said in an opinion piece last month in the Hollywood Reporter that he has his own ideas of how Franklin should be punished.
“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 wrote in the piece, which was included as an exhibit in the court papers.
Flynt founded Hustler magazine in 1974, and his empire now includes a casino in the Los Angeles area. The shooting that left him paralyzed from the waist down came after Hustler published a photo spread of a black man and a white woman.
Flynt’s objection to the execution follows a move by Missouri last month to adopt the drug pentobarbital for executions, after abandoning plans to put to death inmates with the drug propofol.
The plan to use propofol drew strong opposition, especially in Europe where 90 percent of the drug is manufactured.
Franklin has been convicted of eight racially motivated murders in Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Missouri, according to hate group tracker the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is set to be executed for shooting Gerald Gordon to death in the parking lot of a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977.
Franklin joined the American Nazi Party as a teen and changed his name in 1976 from James Clayton Vaughn Jr., adopting Joseph Paul from Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda Paul Joseph Goebbels and Franklin from U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Aside from his convictions, he has confessed to a number of other killings, the Center said.
Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh