Man, whoand buried her body in her backyard, she was executed Wednesday in Texas, despite appeals from his lawyers that he should not be sentenced to d*ath because he had a history of mental illness.
Tracy Beatty, 61, received a lethal injection at the Huntsville State Correctional Facility. He was pronounced dead at 6:39 PM CST after a lethal dose of pentobarbital began to flow through needles inserted into the veins in his wrists. He was convicted of strangling his mother, Carolyn Click, after an argument at her home in East Texas in November 2003.
Just before starting the procedure, the prison chaplain placed his right hand on Beatty’s chest and said a short prayer. Then, when asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Beatty, who was tied to the stretcher in the d*ath chamber, choked and sobbed as he began talking to his wife, who was looking out the window a few feet from him.
“I just want to say thank you …” he said, his voice breaking. “I don’t want to leave you, baby. See you when you get there. I love you.” He kissed her silently.
Beatty, who had a long white beard and long gray and white hair, also thanked his fellow d*ath row inmates and named a few of them. “I love you brothers. See you on the other side.”
As the powerful sedative began to take effect, Beatty took two deep breaths, muttered something incomprehensible, and began to snore. Seventeen minutes later, the doctor pronounced him dead.
Authorities said Beatty buried his 62-year-old mother’s body next to her trailer in Whitehouse, approximately 115 miles (180 km) southeast of Dallas, and then spent his money on dr*gs and alcohol.
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Beatty’s lawyers to stay the ex*cution.
Beatty had three previous ex*cution dates.
His lawyers argued that Beatty could not have received a full examination to determine whether he was intellectually disabled and possibly ineligible for d*ath. They asked prison officers to let Beatty take off their handcuffs while experts assess mental health. Experts have argued that Beatty’s spreading out in neurological and other research is critical to assessing his mental health and making an informed decision about intellectual disability.
In his petition to the Supreme Court, Beatty’s lawyers said that one of the experts who examined the prisoner stated that he was “clearly psychotic and had a complex paranoid delusional belief system” and that he lived in a “complex world of delusions” in which he believed that there is “a massive conspiracy of prison officers who …” torture “him with a device in his ear so that he can hear their menacing voices.”
Citing safety and accountability concerns, the Texas Department of Justice last year introduced an informal policy that would require a court order to allow the release of a prisoner during an expert evaluation.
Federal judges in East Texas and Houston and the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had previously ruled against Beatty’s request for an evaluation without handcuffs. A federal appeals court called Beatty’s request a “delaying tactic.”
Last week, U.S. District Judge Charles Eskridge of Houston asked why Beatty’s lawyers had not made any claims regarding his mental health in a multi-year appeal. The judge said requiring handcuffs during such an assessment was “just a rational concern for safety.”
While the US Supreme Court banned the d*ath penalty for people with intellectual disabilities, it did not prohibit d*ath penalty for people with severe mental illness, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that provides analysis and information on the d*ath penalty.
In 2019, the Texas legislature considered but did not pass a law that would outlaw the d*ath penalty for someone with severe mental illness.
According to prosecutors, Beatty had an “unstable and belligerent relationship” with his mother. One of the neighbors, Lieanna Wilkerson, testified that Click told her that Beatty att*cked her several times, including one when he “beat her so badly he left her to die.” But Wilkerson said Click was still excited that Beatty returned to her in October 2003 so they could mend their relationship.
Mother and son argued daily, however, and Click asked her son to move out twice, including shortly before her d*ath, according to testimony at the 2004 Beatty trial.
“Several times (Beatty) said he just wanted to silence her, that he just wanted to strangle her and silence her,” Wilkerson testified.
Beatty was the fourth inmate to be sentenced to d*ath this year in Texas and 13th in the United States. The final ex*cution of the state this year is to take place next week.
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