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WJAC 6 News - Search Results

The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Hours after execution, victim's family reflects on man who confessed to killing


JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Just hours after Joseph Paul Franklin was granted a stay of execution Tuesday night, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision and Franklin was executed at a Missouri State prison just after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Prison officials said he refused his last meal and offered no final word. Franklin was responsible for the deaths of at least 20 people in the late 1970s, mainly Jews and blacks.

Larry Mikula remembers it like it was was yesterday.

"My mother answered the phone and they said they can't discuss it over the phone, but (my sister is) down at the hospital. She got shot," he said.

Mikula's younger sister Kathleen was only 16 years old when she and her boyfriend, Arthur Smothers, were shot and killed while walking along the Washington Street bridge in Johnstown on June 15, 1980.

"We wanted to know who the heck would do such a thing and to the rest of the people he killed, why?" said Mikula. "Why?"

Franklin was always the main suspect in the murder, but Johnstown police never had enough evidence to prove it until 18 year later, when Franklin confessed from a Tennessee prison. He was already on death row and serving several life sentences for other murders. Franklin said as with his other victims, he targeted the young couple because Smothers was black, something Mikula said his own family never minded.

"You know, we never got angry about it because we're all created equal," said Mikula. "It doesn't matter what race you are. If you love somebody, you love somebody."

Franklin had been behind bars for the past three decades, until his execution Wednesday morning.

"In one way I feel glad, but in another way there's no difference if you're in jail the rest of your life and you can't get out, no parole, or if they're going to kill you," said Mikula. "But there's no difference, you know."

When asked what Mikula would have done if he came face to face with Franklin, he said he wouldn't have killed him, but he would have had something to say.

"I would have told him, 'You sure went the wrong way and now you have to suffer for your consequences'," said Mikula.

 
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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times

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