Death Row

Donald Beaty, Kid-Killing Rapist, Will be Put to Death Next Week, Judge Reiterates

An Arizona judge has refused to block the death sentence of a man convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Janet Barton ruled today that Donald Beaty's claims that he didn't have effective legal counsel in prior court proceedings wasn't convincing enough to block the death sentence. 

Beaty's attorneys filed a motion earlier this month to have his death sentence overturned, claiming his trial lawyer never presented evidence that he was sexually abused as a child and suffers from brain damage.

On May 9, 1984, Fornoff, a newspaper carrier, was collecting money along her paper route at the Rockpoint Apartments in Tempe.

Beaty, a custodian at the apartment complex, abducted the young girl, raped her, and then suffocated her. He kept her dead body in his apartment for two days before leaving it behind a dumpster at the complex.

On July 20, 1985 -- more than 25 years ago -- Beaty was sentenced to death and placed on Death Row, which is where he's remained for more than two decades.

In addition to the complaints about Beaty's trial lawyer, and as has been the case with several other executions in Arizona recently, Beaty's attorneys argue that his execution should at least be stayed -- if their plea to have it overturned completely fails -- because of lingering questions over how one of three drugs used during the execution was obtained.

The drug in question: sodium thiopental, a sedative used to knock out the inmate before he's hit with a lethal dose of potassium chloride.

The supply of the drug has dwindled recently because its domestic manufacturer stopped producing it. For other recent executions, the state told the court it acquired the drug from an unnamed British company that wished to remain anonymous because it feared a backlash from anti-death-penalty groups.

The problem, opponents of the death penalty argue, is that the drug's safety can't be guaranteed because it hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the inmate may suffer some pain before dying -- a pretty weak argument, considering the drug's purpose is to act as one component of a cocktail of drugs designed to kill.

Arguments about how another former death row resident, Daniel Wayne Cook, was represented at trial -- which were similar to those made by Beaty's lawyers -- led to a stay of the execution for Cook last month.

Cook's attorneys claim -- in addition to complaining about how the execution drug was obtained -- he suffers from post-traumatic-stress disorder and brain damage that wasn't diagnosed at the time of his sentencing.

The death sentence wasn't overturned, just delayed until the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

Beaty is scheduled to be executed a week from today.

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James King
Contact: James King

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