Arizona Supreme Court refuses to halt execution of Tempe girl's killer - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Arizona Supreme Court refuses to halt execution of Tempe girl's killer

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Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:39 pm | Updated: 2:31 pm, Wed May 25, 2011.

The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday denied an appeal from a death row inmate who is scheduled to be executed next week for the murder of a 13-year-old Tempe girl.

The high court said a trial judge correctly turned away Donald Beaty's claims that he was denied effective representation at sentencing and post-trial proceedings in trial court.

A lawyer for Beaty said the defense team's next step will be to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on the representation issue. Beaty already has an appeal pending with the federal high court that challenges the death penalty on religious grounds.

Beaty, 56, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 1984 killing of Christy Ann Fornoff. She was raped and killed while collecting on her newspaper route at an apartment complex where Beaty lived and worked.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Janet Barton on Wednesday rejected Beaty's claims of ineffective representation.

Beaty's lawyers contend his previous attorneys never presented evidence that he endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child.

Barton said Beaty's claim that he wasn't effectively defended in trial court has been considered and rejected, and courts have held there's no constitutional right to effective representation in post-trial proceedings in trial court.

In denying the appeal of Barton's ruling, the state Supreme Court justices didn't wait for the state to file a response, saying it wants to give Beaty time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The inmate's lawyers noted the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted several other death row inmates' now-pending appeals based on claims of ineffective representation, but the state high court said the federal court refused to block the execution of another inmate who also made such a claim.

That means there's no certainty that U.S. Supreme Court would block Beaty's execution, the state court said.

Dale Baich, an attorney for Beaty, said Thursday the difference could be that like Beaty, the inmates whose executions were blocked did not have mitigating evidence presented by his defense before sentencing.

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