Texas to execute guy who killed, buried mother

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has given an undated photo of death row convict Tracy Beatty. via AP, Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A Texas convict, whose attorneys claim he has a history of mental illness, is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for killing and burying his mother in her backyard over two decades ago.

The execution of Tracy Beatty, 61, is scheduled for Wednesday evening at the state prison in Huntsville. After an argument in November 2003, he strangled his mother, Carolyn Click, to death in her East Texas residence.

The authorities allege that Beatty buried his mother’s body near her mobile home in Whitehouse, approximately 115 miles southeast of Dallas, and then squandered her money on drugs and alcohol.

Beatty’s attorneys have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution, alleging that he is being denied a comprehensive evaluation to determine if he is cognitively incompetent and so unable to be executed. He previously had three execution dates.

His attorneys have sought that Beatty be uncuffed during mental health evaluations by professionals at the state prison. The specialists claim that Beatty must be uncuffed for neurological and other testing in order to make an educated determination regarding his intellectual disability and mental health evaluation.

One expert who examined Beatty stated that he is “clearly psychotic and has a complex paranoid delusional belief system” and that he lives in a “complex delusional world” where he believes there is a “vast conspiracy of correctional officers who… ‘torture’ him via a device in his ear so he can hear their menacing voices,” Beatty’s attorneys wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.

In 2021, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, citing security and liability concerns, implemented an informal policy that would only let an inmate to be unshackled during an expert examination pursuant to a court order.

Beatty’s plea for an examination without handcuffs has already been denied by federal judges in East Texas, Houston, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The federal court of appeals referred to Beatty’s plea as a “delay tactic.” Judge Charles Eskridge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston questioned last week why Beatty’s attorneys hadn’t raised any mental health claim during years of appeals and stated that requiring handcuffs during such an evaluation is “quite simply a rational security concern.”

According to the Death Sentence Information Center, while the Supreme Court has prohibited the death penalty for those with intellectual disabilities, it has not done so for those with severe mental illness.

In 2019, the Texas legislature discussed a bill that would have barred the execution of those with serious mental illness. The bill was not approved.

On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles overwhelmingly rejected commuting Beatty’s death sentence to a lesser punishment or granting a six-month reprieve.

According to prosecutors, Beatty’s relationship with his mother was “volatile and antagonistic.” Lieanna Wilkerson, a neighbor, testified that Click informed her that Beatty had previously abused her multiple times, including once when he had “hit her so violently that he left her for dead.” However, according to Wilkerson, Click was still eager for Beatty to move back in with her in October 2003 so that they might rebuild their relationship.

According to testimony from Beatty’s 2004 trial, mother and son clashed daily, and Click urged her son twice to move out, including soon before she was murdered.

Wilkerson testified that Beatty stated on a number of occasions that he simply desired to silence her by choking her.

If Beatty is executed, he will be the fourth convict executed in Texas this year and the thirteenth in the United States. Next week, there will be one more execution in Texas, which will be the last in the state in 2022.

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