Carbondale attorney recalls her meeting with serial killer Josep - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Carbondale attorney recalls her meeting with serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin

Missouri executed 63-year-old Joseph Paul Franklin early Wednesday morning. Missouri executed 63-year-old Joseph Paul Franklin early Wednesday morning.
In 1996, Franklin was being held in at the Marion Federal Prison. Carbondale attorney, Rebecca Whittington, sat down to interview the serial killer. In 1996, Franklin was being held in at the Marion Federal Prison. Carbondale attorney, Rebecca Whittington, sat down to interview the serial killer.

A little history for the state of Missouri.  The Show Me State's latest execution is reportedly Missouri's first to use a single drug, pentobarbital.

Missouri executed 63-year-old Joseph Paul Franklin early Wednesday morning.  A judge put the execution on hold late Tuesday on grounds the lethal injection would violate the constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But the U.S. Supreme Court later overruled the judge.

Franklin was a white supremacist who claimed to have killed as many as 20 people across the country. He was put to death for killing a man outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.

In 1996, Franklin was being held in at the Marion Federal Prison. Carbondale attorney, Rebecca Whittington, sat down to interview the serial killer.

Recent photos don't really resemble what Whittington remembers of him in 1996.

"He was very purposeful, he was very intense, but I was impressed that he actually, at that time, had quite a normal presentation when he was talking with me," Whittington explained.

Whittington said she thought Franklin just looked like an "Everyday Joe."

"I thought this could have been a man who was at Kroger shopping," Whittington said.  "I thought, this could be a man who's filling up his gas tank next to me."
 
Whittington was asked to interview Franklin, and his request was for a white, female attorney.

Whittington said she was there to give legal advice and in no way judge.

"What was going through my mind was, 'If I dwell on it, he's going to be able to sense in me that I'm affected by this,' so I just buttoned down and said, ok, lets do it."

But she was still sitting across the table from a known serial killer.

"I did not watch Silence of the Lambs through and through," she said.  "I walked out because I think it was too close to what I had experienced, although it was not that dramatic.  But you sit there and you realize you're a woman, and you realize you're human, and you realize you're vulnerable."

Whittington said she had an obligation to Franklin as an attorney.

"My responsibility was to treat Mr. Franklin professionally, responsibly and politely," Whittington said. "The fact that it made a difference in closure for other people, before he was gone and it was too late, is something I gave thanks for last night."

Whittington admitted she wasn't surprised by Franklin's death Wednesday morning.  While he's gone, she said she'll live with that experience forever.

"All day yesterday I was thinking about it, and thinking that we really are fortunate in life," she said. "We are a sum composite of who we deal with and sometimes the people we deal with make us stronger. I hope I made a difference in someone's life, and I know that I was changed by the experience."

Whittington's interview with Franklin eventually lead to the release of an innocent man convicted of a crime Franklin later confessed to.

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