Kid-Killing Rapist Donald Beaty's Execution Put on Hold

The Arizona Supreme Court has issued a stay in the execution of kid-killing rapist Donald Beaty because of a last-minute switcheroo in one of the drugs used to put him down and a clerical error made by state officials.

Beaty's attorneys reportedly objected to the last-minute substitution of the sedative pentobarbital in place of the commonly used sodium thiopental in the three-drug cocktail used to execute the convicted murderer.

The switch in sedatives was made yesterday after federal officials said the state did not fill out a form needed to bring the new drug into the country. But that's only after anti-death penalty groups whined that the sodium thiopental being used for executions in Arizona wasn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The supply of sodium thiopental 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 FDA 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. It makes about as much sense as disinfecting the injection sight before an execution.

Beaty was convicted of the 1984 rape and murder 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 -- 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.

Luckily, death warrants are good for 24 hours and the court is conducting a hearing this morning to determine whether to go forward with Beaty's execution, despite the clerical error.

Check back later for the court's ruling.

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