Indiana County man sobs as he pleads guilty to killing wife, 2 young girls
District Attorney Patrick Dougherty's mind goes to the pink socks that 6-year-old Sara Beatty was wearing when he thinks about the June night an Indiana County man killed his estranged wife and two daughters.
“Those pink socks will probably always be in my memory because that's basically all I could look at was her feet as she was lying there helpless,” Dougherty said on Friday. “This is one of the hardest cases I've ever been involved with.”
His comments were made in a news conference after a 20-minute hearing in which Lewis Paul Beatty, 41, was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in the June 1 slayings.
Beatty pleaded guilty on Friday to three counts of first-degree homicide. In exchange, the district attorney took the death penalty off the table.
“He will never see the outside of a jail during his lifetime,” Dougherty said.
Wearing blue jail garb, Beatty stood before Judge Thomas Bianco and admitted killing Christine Beatty, 33; Amanda, 11, and Sara.
State police said Beatty strangled his daughter Sara as she played with Barbie dolls in their South Mahoning home, then cut her throat with a hunting knife.
When Amanda returned home from school, Beatty choked her before slashing her throat, police said.
After the killings, he drove to a bank in Marion Center where Christine Beatty worked. Lewis Beatty followed her to her East Mahoning home, strangled her and cut her throat.
He then set fire to that home as well as the family residence in South Mahoning, police said.
“This should've never happened,” Beatty said through tears during the hearing. ”I am very, very remorseful, and I'm sorry.”
Arson and animal cruelty charges were withdrawn by prosecutors as part of the agreement. Police said Beatty shot and killed three family pets.
Christine Beatty's parents, Ron and Lorna Smail, sat in on Dougherty's news conference but left halfway through when Lorna Smail became overwhelmed with emotion.
Dougherty and Christine Beatty's family spent about two weeks mulling over an offer made by the defense for Lewis Beatty to plead guilty. After coming to an agreement, Dougherty said, accepting the plea and taking the death penalty off the table will avoid a long process that would “revictimize the family every time the case is in court.”
“I believe that this outcome will ensure that their wishes are granted but also that justice has been served,” Dougherty said. “They could not continue not knowing what the outcome would be for another six months to a year.”
Beatty was treated by a family physician in November 2011 after suffering from the mental effects of his marriage disintegrating, public defender Fred Hummel said during a news conference.
Then in the spring, Beatty reported having suicidal and homicidal thoughts to a “local medical facility,” Hummel said.
After an hour of treatment, that facility discharged him, he said. The slayings occurred seven days later.
“Lewis tried to get help to keep him from losing control,” Hummel said. “He felt his world was closing in around him. He could not stop that. He tried, but he could not deal with it.”
After setting his South Mahoning home on fire, Beatty became trapped inside and was rescued by a neighbor, according to investigators. Beatty slit his wrists while inside, Hummel said.
He was treated in the hospital before being questioned by police.
“To this day, he is angry and he is disappointed that the fire that he set was discovered before his life ended,” Hummel said. “Lewis is going to be forever sorry for what he has done.”
Christine and Lewis Beatty were separated and had a verbal custody agreement, police have said. Sara was Lewis Beatty's biological daughter. He had adopted Amanda, who was Christine's biological daughter, police said.
The Beattys married in May 2005 and purchased the South Mahoning home in 2007, records show.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She canbe reached at 724-837-5374or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: After L.A., NFL should tread carefully
- Starter Liriano strikes out 12, leads Pirates to series sweep of Mets
- Acme man’s ephemeral sculptures appear to defy laws of physics
- Neighbor arrested after McKeesport house fire, authorities say
- Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Cochran repair center planned in Harrison
- Pirates notebook: Substance rule a sticky subject
- Early success in White House race a pleasant surprise for Carson
- Motorcyclist killed after striking pole in Penn Township
- Memorial Day service in National Cemetery of the Alleghenies still growing
- Oncologists wary of scaled-back guidelines in cancer screenings