Whitehouse man has execution delayed due to the coronavirus

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Whitehouse man who was set to die in five days for the murder of his mother had his execution halted late Thursday due to the coronavirus.

Tracy Lane Beatty, 59, was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, March 25 after being convicted for the July 2003 murder. The stoppage will last 60 days and then the order will be automatically lifted.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote that the order is solely due to the coronavirus and not based off an appeal that Beatty had filed regarding his case.

“We have determined that the execution should be stayed at the present time in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency.”

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The Court is composed of nine judges elected in statewide races. All judges currently on the Court of Criminal Appeals are Republicans.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman opposed the stopping of the execution in a court filing.

“There has been no evidence that the ‘enormous resources needed to address that emergency’ will also include the handful of TDCJ personnel who will carry out Beatty’s execution,” he wrote.

Beatty was the second death sentence stopped by the court in the past week. John Hummel, of Fort Worth, was set to die March 18 for the murders of his pregnant wife, his 5-year-old daughter, and his father-in-law. The procedure was stopped on Monday.

Under Texas law, when the order expires a new execution date will have to set by 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen, the original trial judge.

The date is required to be at least 31 days after the 60-day order expires. This means that the earliest date for Beatty’s execution will be in late July.

Two other East Texans are scheduled to be put to death over the next two months. Billy Wardlow is set to die on April 29 and Randall Mays on May 13.

In Texas, there have been near 150 cases of coronavirus confirmed, although Gov. Abbott believes that number could grow into the tens of thousands.

On Thursday, Abbott wrote an aggressive and unprecedented executive order to enforce social distancing. The order includes:

  • Banning groups of people larger than 10 people
  • All schools and gyms closed
  • Bars and restaurants must close except for takeout and delivery
  • Visits to hospitals and nursing homes are barred unless providing medical care

The order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday night.

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