Texas man executed for strangling his mother and burying her body in his backyard

A man who killed his mother and buried his body in his backyard was executed Wednesday in Texas despite pleas from his lawyers that he not be put to death because he had a history of mental illness.

Tracy Beatty, 61, received a lethal injection at Huntsville State Penitentiary. He was pronounced dead at 6:39 p.m. 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 they had an argument at her East Texas home in November 2003.

Immediately before proceedings began, a prison chaplain placed his right hand on Beatty’s chest and said a brief prayer. Then the director asked him if he had a final statement, Beatty, who was strapped to the stretcher in the death chamber, choked and sobbed as he began to speak to his wife who was watching through a window a few meters from him.

“I just want to thank…” he said, his voice cracking. “I don’t want to leave you, baby. See you soon when you’re there. I love you.” He gave her a kiss.

Beatty, who had a long white beard and gray-white hair, also thanked the other death row inmates and named several of them. “I love you, my brothers. See you soon on the other side.”

When the powerful sedative took effect, Beatty took two deep breaths, mumbled something unintelligible, and started snoring. Seventeen minutes later, a doctor pronounced him dead.

Authorities said Beatty buried the body of his 62-year-old mother next to her mobile home in Whitehouse, about 180 miles southeast of Dallas, then spent the money on drugs and alcohol.

The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday morning dismissed an appeal by Beatty’s lawyers to stop the execution.

Beatty had three previous execution dates.

His lawyers had argued that Beatty had been barred from undergoing a full examination to determine if he was intellectually disabled and possibly ineligible for death. They had asked prison officials to allow Beatty to be uncuffed during expert mental health evaluations. Experts argued that having Beatty uncuffed during neurological and other tests was crucial in assessing his mental health and making an informed decision about intellectual disability.

In their petition to the Supreme Court, Beatty’s attorneys said an expert who examined the inmate determined he was “clearly psychotic and had a complex paranoid delusional belief system” and was living in a “complex delusional world” where he believes there is a “vast conspiracy of corrections officers who … ‘torture’ him via a device in his ear so he can hear their threatening voices.”

Citing security and liability concerns, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice last year implemented an informal policy that would require a court order to allow an inmate to be released upon evaluation by a expert.

Federal judges in East Texas and Houston and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans previously ruled against Beatty’s request for an uncuffed evaluation. The federal appeals court called Beatty’s request a “delaying tactic.”

Last week, U.S. District Judge Charles Eskridge in Houston questioned why Beatty’s attorneys had not raised any complaints about his mental health during years of appeals. The judge said requiring handcuffs during such an assessment is “simply a rational security concern”.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities, it has not banned such punishment for people with serious mental illness, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an organization nonprofit based in Washington, DC that provides analysis and information. on capital punishment.

In 2019, the Texas legislature considered but did not pass a bill that would have outlawed the death penalty for someone with serious mental illness.

Beatty had a “volatile and combative relationship” with his mother, according to prosecutors. A neighbor, Lieanna Wilkerson, testified that Click told her that Beatty had assaulted her several times before, including once when he “beat her so badly that he left her for dead”. But Wilkerson said Click was still delighted to have Beatty back with her in October 2003 so they could mend their relationship.

However, mother and son argued on a daily basis, and Click twice asked her son to move out, including just before she was killed, according to Beatty’s 2004 trial testimony.

“Many times (Beatty) had said he just wanted to shut her up, he just wanted to choke her and shut her up,” Wilkerson testified.

Beatty was the fourth inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 13th in the United States. The final state execution this year is expected to take place next week.


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