Man who shot Larry Flynt in Ga. is executed

March 9, 1978 - Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt is carried into Emory Hospital by EMTs. (AJC file photo)

March 9, 1978 - Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt is carried into Emory Hospital by EMTs. Click image for more pictures. (AJC file photo)

On March 6, 1978, a racist gunman in Lawrenceville shot Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Gwinnett lawyer Gene Reeves.

Flynt, now 71, remains paralyzed from the attack. Reeves survived and is a retired Gwinnett magistrate judge. [File photos of shooting scene]

The gunman, Alabama native Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, was executed Wednesday morning in Missouri.

Flynt had asked the court to spare the life of Franklin, 63, who was executed for a 1977 murder outside a synagogue near St. Louis.

“My opinion on the death penalty hasn’t changed for decades,” Flynt said on NPR. “I just don’t think that government should be in the business of killing people. And I think punishment by putting someone in a 3-by-6 cell is a lot greater than if you snuff out their life in a few seconds with a lethal injection.”

The porn mogul wrote a column in The Hollywood Reporter explaining his beliefs. He said he never met the man who sentenced him to life in a wheelchair, but “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.”

Franklin was born in Mobile, Ala., in 1950 as James Clayton Vaughn, Jr. At age 26 he changed his name to honor Nazi propaganda minister Paul Joseph Goebbels and founding father Benjamin Franklin.

Shortly after the name change he began shooting.

A member of the Ku Klux Klan, he roamed the East Coast looking for opportunities to “cleanse the world” of inferior people.

Several of his targets lived in the Atlanta area.

In 1978, Atlanta police believe Franklin shot and killed Johnny Brookshire, who was walking with his pregnant, white wife near their home on Blue Ridge Avenue.

In 1979, police believe Franklin shot a black cab driver talking to a white woman near Piedmont Park.

“He knew facts about the murders that only the murderer could have known,” Atlanta Police Major Keith Meadows told 11 Alive News. “He was able to tell us exactly what the victims were wearing at the time the shooting took place.”

DeKalb police believe Franklin killed 15-year-old Mercedes Masters in 1979 for having sex with a black man.

In this June 2, 1981, file photo, Joseph Paul Franklin is shown following his conviction on two counts of first degree murder in Salt Lake City. Franklin has been convicted of five murders, but authorities suspect he's responsible for many more during a cross-country murder spree more than three decades ago, but it was the killing of a man outside a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977 that landed Franklin on Missouri's death row. He's scheduled to die Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, the first execution in nearly three years in Missouri. (AP Photo/File)

In this June 2, 1981, file photo, Joseph Paul Franklin is shown following his conviction on two counts of first degree murder in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/File)

On July 12, 1979, Franklin said he killed Taco Bell manager Harold McIver in Doraville.  Franklin thought McIver, a black man, dated white women.

On May 29, 1980, Franklin said he shot civil rights activist Vernon Jordan Jr., a native of Atlanta who later became a close adviser to President Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter visited Jordan in the hospital, which was the first story covered by a new cable news network in Atlanta called CNN.

Franklin finally got caught after killing two young black men in Salt Lake City in August 1980.

Implicated in at least 22 shootings, he was eventually convicted of eight murders: two in Wisconsin, two in Ohio, two in Utah, one in Tennessee and one in Missouri. He was sentenced to death in Missouri in 1997.

Franklin targeted Flynt because Hustler magazine published pictures of a black man with a white woman.

In the AJC archives I came across the work of my former co-worker Bill Montgomery, who, after the shooting, interviewed Flynt in his clothing-optional California mansion.

Montgomery wrote that Flynt ran afoul of Georgia’s anti-pornography laws in 1977 when he set up a news stand on Peachtree Street and personally began selling copies of Hustler. He was charged with distributing pornography in Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

During a lunch break in the Gwinnett trial, Flynt and his attorney were shot while walking back to the courthouse from V&J Cafeteria. Franklin’s .44 slugs hit Flynt twice and Reeves once.

Gwinnett dropped all charges against Flynt, but he had to stand trial in Fulton in 1979. The wheelchair-bound publisher was fined $27,500 and given an 11-year suspended sentence.

Franklin was not named as a suspect in the Flynt case until March 6, 1984, exactly six years after the shooting.

In a 1984 AJC article, Gwinnett police said Franklin contacted them by letter in 1983 and asked them to visit him in an Illinois prison. During that visit, he admitted to shooting Flynt. Police said Franklin was in the area at the time because he rented a hotel room and purchased a car.

Franklin, in a CNN prison interview, said he killed blacks because he wanted to spark a race war.

“I thought once I started doing it, and showed [other white supremacists] how, other people would start doing it,” said Franklin. “I thought I was doing the will of God.”


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26 comments Add your comment

Larry J.

November 20th, 2013
11:03 am

Bye….you POS.


November 20th, 2013
11:08 am

What Took so LONG?

Things are pretty Warm Right About Now…….SCREAMING WARM!


November 20th, 2013
11:16 am

If Larry Flint wanted him to stay in a 3×6 cell the rest of his life was he going to volunteer to pay to feed him from now on?


November 20th, 2013
11:29 am

From the article:
Franklin was not named as a suspect in the Flynt case until March 6, 1978, exactly six years after the shooting.

1978 wasn’t 6 years after the shooting. Was he named a suspect in a different year?


November 20th, 2013
11:30 am

Saint Pete Never LQQKED at The Record on this one…..For there were Just (3) Three Letters that informed of ALL, that is needed to know. “GMF”.

Any Guesses what they Mean?


November 20th, 2013
11:32 am

Pretty sure somebody should be kerryb in a small cell so people can walk by and throw peanuts at her.

ATL Born and Raised

November 20th, 2013
11:44 am

@kerryb You’ll note it costs much more money to put someone to death than to imprison them for life.

George Mathis

November 20th, 2013
11:44 am

Matthew – That’s my mistake, I will fix it. He was named a suspect in 1984. Thanks.


November 20th, 2013
11:54 am

No offense Mr. Mathis, but this should be front page news.


November 20th, 2013
12:45 pm

Maybe it is. I guess I would have to buy the paper to find out. That’s not going to happen.


November 20th, 2013
1:38 pm

I find it interesting that all these liberals (including Larry Flynt) think that the death penalty is so harsh so we have watered it down to the point that the punishment is just falling asleep forever. No suffering, no pain etc. However, he is willing to go in a 3X9 cell with him and put him through what he went through which is precisely what the cruel and unusual punishment clause is supposed to prevent.

Secondly, maybe I don’t understand, so can someone explain how executing a person on death row costs more than feeding and housing them for life?

George Mathis

November 20th, 2013
2:06 pm

Jimpay – The argument is that death penalty cases tend to have a lot more appeals and a lot of “free” lawyers get involved that bill taxpayers for many years. In many cases, the death penalty is delayed for 20 or more years. Franklin’s execution was ordered in 1997.

In Maryland, I believe a study concluded a death penalty case cost $3 million but a “life without parole” case cost about $1 million.

California estimates it could save $200 million a year by dropping all death penalty cases.

George Mathis

November 20th, 2013
2:08 pm

Also, a death row inmate is housed in a special facility, usually. This is an additional cost. Here is a link with some info that you may find helpful.


November 20th, 2013
2:08 pm

In the Bible, the crimes of rape, kidnapping, and of course, murder, are all capital offenses, There’s no justice in this country. How to you pay for a life you’ve taken? By 40-50 years of room, food, and medical care? Some guy ran over a family at McDonalds in Covington in 2006 because he wanted medical care for his cancer, and knew that the gov’t would take care of it. Unless the person who murdered is put to death, there is no justice; there is no other way he can truly pay for the crime. Liberalism is the worst thing that ever happened to this country. It’s denied more people justice and killed more people (abortion), and finally the US economy, than any single nut ever has. One day, we’ll bury it, and live like sane people should. Knowing the gullible stupidity of the average person, it make take until the KOG. Until then, enjoy the Kanye States of America…


November 20th, 2013
2:11 pm

Well good! I lived in St Louis and it’s about time MO did some executing. While Keith Meadows is not the old great Atlanta homicide I knew and loved, he should have proven the other murders instead of inferring that the dude did them.
He did shoot Larry Flynnt and while I disagreed with Flynt’s portrayal of women (this was before the Sprots Illustrated swimsuit issue became porn), I don’t believe people should be shot for having a porn mag. Of course the idiots in Gwinnett were trying Flynt back then while Atlanta had open house of topless bars and bath houses!


November 20th, 2013
2:13 pm

Oh great, I see the writer refers to the archives with Bill Montgomery. I guess all of us back in the old days of Atlanta are archived. Montgomery was a great writer and reporter. Hey I knew a lot of the old great reporters way back when…….in the archives!

Tex Blomberg

November 20th, 2013
2:39 pm

Its great Larry got shot. Too bad this moron wasnt a better shot.


November 20th, 2013
2:57 pm

George, I will certainly check out your links. However, I feel it safe to say that we can conclude that these studies are conducted by people that are anti death penalty. If the death penalty is as costly as they say it is, it is because we have made it that way. We have a justice system where have a jury of our peers look at the case and decide by the evidence presented, your guilt or innocence. Now that being said, any crime you are found guilty for has its own consequences. Therefore, If i go out and commit a crime, I should expect no less than the consequences of my actions. These people that commit crimes worthy of the death penalty know that as well. They choose to ignore that fact or think that somehow in this day and age, that they will be able to get away with it. Personally, I think that “back in the day” as they say, the executions on the public squares were a true deterrent. Look at what this nation has become partly due to the fact that “hey, if i go out and kill someone, i get to spend the rest of my life in prison with three squares a day and a place to sleep, a tv, all paid for by someone else. Worst case scenario, I get put to sleep ( which is highly unlikely because I may die of natural causes before the time for my nap comes. It just really makes me sick. Let’s briefly use the McStay family for a second. Someone killed that family including their innocent children. In all likelihood, that crime happened in California. The worst that is gonna happen to the scum that did that is life in prison. Do we really think that is fair treatment for a criminal that took the lives and probably introduced those children to the worst fear they had ever known in their lives? Not in my mind any way. Call me old fashioned if you will but I believe the punishment should fit the crime. If that involves death by hanging, electrocution, firing squad, or if lethal injection is all we can muster up the guts to do, then so be it. They committed the crime knowing the consequences and they should suffer those consequences if they are proven guilty beyond doubt!


November 20th, 2013
4:18 pm

The one irrefutable benefit of capital punishment is that it forever ends the perp’s ability to kill again.

If you think a life sentence is all that’s necessary to keep killers off the street read the article (”Court orders Lawrenceville man free”) on page 3A of today’s Gwinnett Daily Post.


November 20th, 2013
4:39 pm

Although there is no doubt regarding J.P. Franklin’s guilt – he was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic which should give all non-Nazis pause. According to Wikipedia, a number of people are claimed to have been innocent victims of the death penalty. Newly available DNA evidence has allowed the exoneration and release of more than 15 death row inmates since 1992 in the United States, but DNA evidence is available in only a fraction of capital cases. Others have been released on the basis of weak cases against them, sometimes involving prosecutorial misconduct; resulting in acquittal at retrial, charges dropped, or innocence-based pardons. The Death Penalty Information Center (U.S.) has published a list of 10 inmates “executed but possibly innocent”.[5] At least 39 executions are claimed to have been carried out in the U.S. in the face of evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt.[6] I agree with Flynt. A life in a small solitary cell is greater punishment than lethal injection. Regarding the tax payer expense, court appointed attorneys, multiple court reviews, increased security, increased press attention, etc. has been calculated to be more expensive than simple life long confinement. More important, the activation of a societies’ hate and killing genes (note comment section) may justify, particularly in the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic, the right to kill others.

Hidden agenda

November 20th, 2013
4:42 pm

Whatever anyone feels about Mr. Flynt’s profession or the material he chooses to publish in his magazine, he has been one of America’s greatest and most outspoken champions of the first Amendment. He has also been an outspoken critic of all of the senseless wars we have engaged in since the end of WW2 and has been so bold as to show dismembered bodies of soldiers and innocents on the back cover of his magazine with the caption “and people think what I show is obscene…nothing is as obscene as war.” Even to the end Larry recognized that giving the government the power to legally murder anyone is a wrong-headed thing (yet recognized the right of the victim to extract justice – two completely different things with completely different societal implications). Sadly of course Mr. Flynt sides with the democratic party despite its obvious disrespect for so much of the constitution (like the GOP). What a shame that Larry was one of his victims.


November 20th, 2013
6:09 pm

Jimplay, you are most definitely a non-thinking brainwashed talk radio foxbot. Jesus weeps for you.

Anyone who doesn’t drink Rupert Murdoch/Rush Limbaugh koolaid and walk lockstep to the tea party idiots to you is a dreaded “liberal.”

Provided with PROOF that your stupidity is just that, your comeback is that the ones who came up with it are anti-death penalty. Why? Just because you have a mind that is closed tighter than Mother Theresa’s Pu……… (whoops) doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.

I could be mistaken but from MY reading of Mr. Mathis I have drawn the conclusion that HE is strongly conservative. He apparently ALSO is truthful, something your hero’s Rush and Rupert aren’t. Rush Limbaugh should change HIS name to Dr. Goebbels, and you should be wearing a brown suit.

But hey FOXBOT, have a great day as you are filled with hate.


November 20th, 2013
6:20 pm

I understand your point. I truly do. One person executed who was truly innocent is one too many and wrong. In those cases you can say the justice system failed us as a country and failed the person who was executed as well as the victim of the crime as the real perp is still on the loose. So anti death penalty people proclaim that abolishment of the death penalty is the answer. Now, let’s play devils advocate for a second. Let’s say that a guilty man is exonerated of charges and then goes out and kills again. Now you have an innocent person dying at the hands of a guilty person that has been found innocent by a jury of his peers. We all know that this happens all the time as well. I would like to hear from the anti death penalty people how to stop those people from dying!!! When the anti death penalty have an answer for that one, I will gladly jump on their bandwagon with my full support.

Mayor Kasim Reed

November 20th, 2013
6:30 pm

Why do blacks hate the Tea Party so much? Is it because they think it is made up of all white people not wanting to pay even more taxes so the welfare brood moms can keep pumping out babies, for paying for the Obama phones, and for paying for the Obama care? Is that it? If not? What is it? Everyone should feel they are Taxed Enough Already (Tea) unless of course they don’t pay taxes. hmmmmm

Voice of Insanity

November 20th, 2013
6:38 pm

It’s very simple, Jimpay. Once a person is sentenced to death, you execute them immediately. That way you don’t have to deal with such things as having an inadequate lawyer, police and prosecutors hiding evidence that would exonerate the accused, having a biased judge and jury, faulty testimony from eye-witnesses, lazy police who railroad the accused to save their own jobs. Once you execute immediately after sentencing, none of those problems can even be discussed or reviewed, so no long term incarcerations awaiting execution. And in those rare instances where a guilty person goes free and kills again, you’d completely wipe that out, along with the innocent people executed.


November 21st, 2013
8:09 am

Voice of Insanity – apply titled. Sounds like someone who might be wrongly accused and executed.