Ariz. Supreme Court denies stay of execution for convicted killer, rapist

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Supreme Court has denied a motion requesting a stay of execution for a convicted rapist and killer who is scheduled to be put to death next week.

Lawyers for Donald Beaty, 56, filed the appeal Wednesday with the Arizona Supreme Court.

They asked the justices to review a Maricopa County Superior Court judge's ruling, which said previous court decisions preclude new consideration of Beaty's claims that he lacked effective legal representation in prior proceedings.

Beaty was convicted in the 1984 rape and murder of Christy Ann Fornoff. The 13-year-old was killed while collecting on her newspaper route.

Earlier this month, his attorneys argued that Beaty's trial lawyer never presented evidence that Beaty endured severe physical and sexual abuse as a child or had brain damage.

They also argued that his post-conviction attorney never argued that the trial lawyer was ineffective and also failed to present evidence of the abuse.

Similar arguments won Daniel Wayne Cook, another Arizona death-row inmate, a stay of execution last month from the U.S. Supreme Court less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to die. His lawyers also argued that he had ineffective counsel during post-conviction proceedings.

Like Cook, Beaty also has requests pending with the Arizona Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The warrant for Beaty's execution was issued last month. He is scheduled to be put to death on May 25 at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence.

It's a day Fornoff's parents have been waiting for for nearly 30 years.

"We probably have come to closure," said Carol Fornoff, Christy's mom. “Yet it is one more step that means the justice system finally works."