Texas Executes Killer Whose Appeals Had Halted The State's ExecutionsMICHAEL L. GRACZYK , Associated Press
Nov. 3, 1988 8:51 AM ET
HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Donald Gene Franklin, whose appeal halted executions in the state for more than nine months, was put to death early today for abducting and murdering a nurse 13 years ago.
Franklin, 37, made no final statement before a lethal injection was administered at the Texas Department of Corrections' Wall Unit.
Franklin stared at the death chamber ceiling and coughed several times as drugs flowing through needles inserted into his arms took effect. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m., six minutes after doctors began administering the injection.
Franklin was the second person executed this year in Texas, which leads the nation with 28 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court restored capital punishment in 1976. He was the 102nd person executed in the United States since then.
Franklin spent 12 1/2 years on death row, and had three trials and at least five execution dates. His own attorney once described him as the most hated man in San Antonio, where Mary Margaret ''Peggy'' Moran, 27, was slain in July 1975.
''I'm very thankful it's over,'' her mother, Patricia Crawford, said today. ''I feel really relieved. I feel I can be at peace and Peggy can be at peace.''
At the time of the execution, she said, she was looking at a picture of her daughter.
''It's been a long hard day,'' she said. ''It's been a very, very long 13 years.''
Franklin's hopes for a reprieve were blocked late Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to refuse him a stay.
The nation's highest court had granted Franklin a stay in October 1987 to consider his challenge of Texas' capital punishment law. His attorneys argued that the law does not say how much weight a jury should give to a defendant's mitigating circumstances.
The challenge put a halt to executions in Texas after Jan. 7, when Robert Streetman, 27, was put to death for murdering a woman in a $1 burglary.
In June, the nation's highest court voted 6-3 to reject Franklin's challenge.
Franklin spent his final day in a small cell next to the death chamber, and was visited by his parents.
In 1975, Ms. Moran's disappearance from a San Antonio hospital prompted a highly publicized citywide search. Five days after her abduction, she was found in a vacant lot, nude, bleeding from multiple stab wounds and barely alive. She died later in a hospital.
Franklin was on parole for a rape conviction when he was arrested about four hours after the abduction, but consistently denied any involvement in Ms. Moran's disappearance.
''He just told me he was framed for something he didn't do,'' a fellow death row inmate, Johnny Penry, said Wednesday.
Witnesses provided the license plate number of a car speeding away from the hospital. The car was Franklin's.
Police also found the nurse's belongings in his garbage can and blood found on his clothing matched Ms. Moran's.
''This is a case I use as the classic circumstantial evidence case,'' said Bill Harris, a Bexar County district attorney who handled Franklin's case. ''We had overwhelming evidence. It's an appropriate case for the death penalty and he's an appropriate subject.''
''The worst part, in my mind, is that Franklin is the most hated man in San Antonio, at least in recent history,'' said Allen Cazier, who defended Franklin at his third trial.