Indiana Co. district attorney to seek death penalty in triple homicide

INDIANA — The Indiana County District Attorney's office held a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Indiana State Police Barracks to announce that it plans to seek the death penalty in the triple homicide case against Lewis Beatty, 40, South Mahoning Township, who has been charged with killing both of his daughters and his estranged wife June 1.

District Attorney Pat Dougherty said his office had to file a notice with the court prior to Beatty's formal arraignment in October of its intention. That notice was filed Wednesday, Dougherty said.

In June, Beatty was charged with three counts of criminal homicide in the deaths of Amanda, 11, an adopted daughter, Sara, 6, his biological daughter, and Christine Beatty, 33, his estranged wife.

Police had been notified of a fire at Beatty's residence on Morrow Road around 7:15 p.m. June 1, and when they arrived they discovered the severity of the situation.

It is alleged that after hearing his wife had a boyfriend, Beatty used a hunting knife to cut the throat of Sara while she slept.

Beatty allegedly killed three animals at the residence including a dog, a goat and a pony, as he awaited the return home of Amanda.

When Amanda arrived home, he allegedly used the same hunting knife to kill her in the living room.

Police said Beatty then went to Plumville, where he waited until his wife had departed from her job at Marion Center Bank.

Beatty followed her to a rented mobile home along Pfeiffer Road, and they spoke briefly at the door before Beatty allegedly strangled her and then slit her throat with a kitchen knife found nearby.

Beatty then allegedly set the home on fire, returned to his residence, and lit that house on fire in four different locations.

He was trapped inside the home after he set the fires, and when a neighbor heard loud booms coming from inside the home, the neighbor rescued him through a rear window.

Dougherty explained that for his office to seek the death penalty, it must cite at least one aggravating factor in any case, noting that there are two aggravating factors in this case.

"The first aggravating factor is the ages of the children, who were six and 11 years old pursuant to the crimes" he said. "Involvement of children under the age of 12 acts as an aggravating factor. The other we are seeking is that there were multiple victims between the mother, Christine, and the two children. First degree murder in those cases can also be used as an aggravating factor. Those two factors are what have led us to seek the death penalty in this case."