By SCOTT JACKSON
The state’s highest court on Thursday upheld a Quincy man’s first-degree murder conviction for the 2009 killing of his girlfriend, Mary Beaton.
The defendant, Joseph Beatty, was convicted in 2019 of one count of murder in the first degree on the theories of deliberate premeditation, extreme atrocity or cruelty, and felony murder in connection with the 2009 killing of Beaton in her Quincy apartment. Beatty was sentenced to life without parole in state prison, plus a concurrent sentence of 25 to 30 years on a charge of aggravated rape.
In his appeal before the Supreme Judicial Court, Beatty argued the trial judge, Thomas Connors, abused his discretion in finding Beatty competent to stand trial and that the jury instructions were prejudicial. He also asked the court to use its authority under state law to reduce the degree of guilt or order a new trial.
The court rejected those arguments in a unanimous decision.
“We recognize that the defendant presented substantial evidence that he lacked criminal responsibility at the time he killed the victim. However, the Commonwealth presented substantial evidence to the contrary,” Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt wrote in the 28-page decision.
“The jury were entitled to reject the testimony and opinions of the defendant and his expert and instead to credit the contrary evidence, including the opinion of the Commonwealth’s expert. In short, the jury were entitled to conclude that the defendant was criminally responsible.”
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey applauded the high court ruling.
“We felt very strongly that Judge Connors did not abuse his discretion or commit error in his rulings and that Mr. Beatty’s conviction served justice,” Morrissey said in a statement.
The case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Blair and Assistant District Attorney Pamela Alford, with Victim/Witness Advocate Maureen Russell serving at trial and Victim/Witness Advocate Kristen Collins working on appeal.