PHOENIX (Reuters) - 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, prison officials said.
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.
With his last words, Beaty apologized to the murder victim’s parents. He told them “God will let you see her again,” Barrett Marson, an Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman said
Marson added that Beaty was “very emotional” and difficult to understand.
Beaty’s final meal included a double cheeseburger, a shredded beef chimichanga and rocky road ice cream.
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.
A jury deadlocked in Beaty’s first trial. He was convicted of murder and sexual assault when a psychologist testified that he confessed to the killing in a group therapy session.
In last-ditch appeals, Beaty’s lawyers unsuccessfully maintained his life should be spared because he did not have effective legal representation.
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.
Editing by Tim Gaynor, Steve Gorman and Greg McCune