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May 26, 2011

Arizona completes execution with substitute drug

As detailed in this Reuters piece, an "Arizona apartment complex custodian was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1984 rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl, after a flurry of last-minute court appeals failed." Here is more:

Donald Edward Beaty, 56, died at 7:38 p.m. local time at a state prison in Florence, Arizona, officials said, in an execution delayed for more than nine hours by a legal dispute over one of the drugs used to kill him.  Beaty, convicted of killing newspaper carrier Christy Ann Fornoff, had won a temporary stay from the Arizona Supreme Court after his lawyers objected to the last-minute substitution of a drug to be used in the lethal-injection mix.

But the court lifted the stay after conducting a special hearing on Wednesday morning, rejecting arguments that the state breached Beaty's constitutional due process rights and protections against cruel and unusual punishment.  Petitions to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court were unsuccessful....

Arizona switched the sedative in the three-drug "cocktail" it planned to administer to Beaty from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital on Tuesday after federal officials said the state failed to fill out a required form to bring the substitute drug into the country. Sodium thiopental, which renders the prisoner unconscious, has been at the center of a debate over appropriate execution drugs. Supplies have become scarce in the United States, and efforts to buy stocks overseas have stirred controversy and been turned down flat by some manufacturers.

Beaty was convicted of snatching Fornoff from her newspaper route in Tempe, Arizona, in May 1984.  He sexually assaulted her, then suffocated her in what was then one of the state's more sensational criminal cases.  Court records said he kept the body inside his apartment for two days.  She was later found wrapped in a sheet behind a dumpster there....

He is the second inmate executed in Arizona this year, and the 26th since the death penalty was reinstated there in 1992. Nineteen people have been executed in the United States so far this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

May 26, 2011 at 08:46 AM | Permalink


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The DOJ created this mess by waiting until the eve of the execution to notify the AZ DOC about the drug. Perhaps, AZ should have taken matters into their own hands after seeing what happened in other states and switched the drug which would have most likely avoided all these last minute maneuvers.

You got to love Reinhardt's final sentence in his dissent. Like he is really concerned about "diminishing public confidence in the administration of the death penalty."

Posted by: DaveP | May 26, 2011 9:23:07 AM

Imagine if Goodwin Liu was confirmed to the 9th circus. Another radical anti-DP activist. I'm just glad justice was finally delivered - 27 years later. Holder and DOJ's plan backfired. Enough is enough.

Posted by: DeanO | May 26, 2011 9:47:17 AM


at the end of the day, Beaty would not have prevailed.
However, as I posted before, a lot of unnecessary court action on this one. Had the drug been switched a couple of weeks ago, this case would have gone through the state and federal courts most likely without delay. None of the other states that have changed the drug encountered any obstacles.

Posted by: DaveP | May 26, 2011 10:07:21 AM

DaveP --

I wonder when Reinhardt is going to start fretting about "diminishing public confidence in the Ninth Circuit" -- much of it brought about by his very own self.

For the most reversed appellate judge in America to start in on "diminishing public confidence" in ANYTHING is just mind-boggling.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 27, 2011 9:24:38 AM

I think Plata, affirming as it did the result of a rigged game, does more to diminish public confidence in the judiciary than Arizona executing this child murdering scum.

Posted by: federalist | May 28, 2011 10:49:04 AM

Bill Otis

Reinhardt is amazing. According to what I have researched, Reinhardt and Boyce Martin over at the 6th Circuit have never affirmed a death sentence. His twin, Merritt has twice voted to uphold a death sentence in the past couple of years.

Myself, as a member of the public am amazed at the time SCOTUS has to spend reversing the 9th and the 6th. Hopefully, a couple of more summary reversals are coming down before the term is over. I am sure a lot of us have "diminishing public confidence" in the two circuit courts of appeal who very rarely get it right.

Posted by: DaveP | May 28, 2011 2:45:29 PM

" I am sure a lot of us have 'diminishing public confidence' in the two circuit courts of appeal who very rarely get it right."

Not to quibble, but the issue is not the particular circuit, but certain judges who make up the circuit. There are great judges on the Sixth and the Ninth. And the problems on those circuits, overwhelmingly, are Democratic appointees.

Posted by: federalist | May 29, 2011 8:37:32 AM


true there are several good judges on both courts. However, as I am sure you agree, the judges on the left seem to carry the day on most of the cases that are disposed of before they go to SCOTUS.

No matter how much we complain about Reinhardt, he still gets the required amount of judges to join him on the panel or the en banc decisions.

Posted by: DaveP | May 29, 2011 11:28:59 AM

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