Joseph Paul Franklin: Judge jaws with convicted sniper killer during sentencing

WCPOPublished: June 14, 2018
Published: June 14, 2018

Joseph Paul Franklin, a racist serial killer, killed as many as 18 people in a four-year murder spree across the U.S. Franklin usually targeted racially-mixed couples, but he also shot civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. In 1980, he was hiding on a railroad trestle in Bond Hill in Cincinnati, waiting for an interracial couple to come by. When he got impatient, he shot two black cousins, 13-year-old Dante Evans Brown and 14-year-old Darrell Lane, as they walked to store late at night to buy candy. Franklin was suspected but never charged. For one thing, they never found the gun. Seventeen years later, after Franklin was convicted of a Missouri murder and sentenced to die, prosecutor Joe Deters sent a pretty assistant, Melissa Powers (now a judge) to talk to Franklin. Powers sweet-talked him into confessing. Later, Powers would say, "I flattered him a lot. I made him feel that he was important, asked for his assistance -- definitely played up the compliments and the flattery … "I sold my soul to the devil in order to get what we needed." When Franklin went to trial here in 1998, Powers took the stand and played the tape of Franklin’s racially-charged confession. A jury took 45 minutes to convict him. Franklin went back to Missouri to await the death penalty. It took until 2013 for him to be executed.

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