The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal challenging the death penalty from an Arizona inmate set to be executed this week for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old Tempe girl in 1984.
The justices turned away Donald Edward Beaty's 22-page handwritten appeal filed in March without comment. In the appeal, Beaty wrote that he should not be executed because the death penalty violated his constitutional rights to religious freedom and to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.
"The religious principles of anyone who believes or has faith is to safeguard all life and dignity of all human beings, no matter what evil a person has done," Beaty wrote. "The creator teaches that every life is a precious gift of God."
Beaty, 56, is set for execution Wednesday at a state prison in Florence. He has another appeal pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, one filed last week in which his attorneys argue that he had ineffective attorneys early in his case.
Beaty's attorneys say that his trial lawyer — who was later disbarred in 1991 for solicitation to commit money laundering and attempted operation of a prostitution enterprise — never presented evidence that Beaty endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child.
They also argue that Beaty's post-conviction attorney never argued that the trial lawyer was ineffective or presented evidence of the abuse.
Prosecutors filed their response with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that the courts have had ample opportunity to review Beaty's conviction and sentence and that arguments about his abuse have no merit.
"Beaty's last-minute attempt to provide new information about his childhood purportedly offered to explain his murder and rape of Christy Ann Fornoff provides no equitable or legal basis to stay his execution," according to the filing from the Arizona Attorney General's office.
Beaty's lawyers also are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to withdraw his death warrant because justices of the state high court recently toured death row and met with prison officials to discuss execution scheduling and protocols.
On May 9, 1984, 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff disappeared at a Tempe apartment complex while making collections for her newspaper route. Her body was found behind a trash bin two days later.
Police arrested Beaty, who was the apartment custodian, after finding that blood, semen and hair on the girl's body was consistent with Beaty's, and that hair in Beaty's apartment was consistent with Christy's.
While in prison, Beaty told a psychologist that he did not mean to kill Christy, but had accidentally suffocated her when he put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams, according to court records.
Defense attorney Sarah Stone wrote that Beaty's abuse and claims of mental problems "are not offered as excuses for this offense, but rather are meant to place Christy Ann Fornoff's murder in a context."
"While there was a degree of intent involved in the sexual offense, because of Donald's brain damage, his victimization as a child, and psychiatric problems never treated, the murder was likely an act of impulse resulting from his inability to problem-solve and deal with unforeseen circumstances," Stone wrote.