An execution date finally has been set for an Arizona killer convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl as she collected money for her paper route at a Tempe apartment complex in 1984.
After nearly 26 years on Death Row -- on the taxpayer dime -- 56-year-old Donald Edward Beaty will be put to death on May 25 at the state prison in Florence for the murder and rape of 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff.
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 -- again, 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.
As has been the case with several other executions in Arizona recently, Beaty's attorneys are arguing that his execution should be stayed 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 have argued, 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 that is designed to kill someone.
Not to mention, we're willing to bet Beaty wasn't too concerned with how much pain Christie Fornoff felt as he raped and strangled her to death.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution of another Arizona Death Row inmate who'd made the same arguments as Beaty about the safety of the drug.
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Daniel Wayne Cook's execution was stayed, but not because of the potential safety risks of the drug, rather, because his attorneys claim 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.
In the case of Eric John King, another former-Death Row resident who argued that the drug wasn't safe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his execution could go forward regardless of where the drug came from. He was executed late last month.
With no PTSD defense to fall back on, it seems Beaty finally will be put to death more than 25 years after being convicted of murder.