Ariz. death row inmate's clemency plea rejected

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona's clemency board narrowly turned down a death row inmate's pleas for mercy five days before his scheduled execution for the beating death of another man in 1987.

Thomas Paul West, 52, argued at Thursday's hearing that sexual abuse as a child by three different men forever changed him and led to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency could have recommended that Gov. Jan Brewer lessen his sentence to life in prison, but they voted 3-2 to allow it to proceed.

Their decision came after hours of arguments from defense attorneys, prosecutors, West himself and the son of the man he killed.

West is set to be executed on Tuesday, almost exactly 24 years after he beat Donald Bortle to death while robbing his home just outside Tucson.

According to the ADOC, West took the stolen goods to Phoenix, apparently intended to sell them. While in Phoenix, West told friends what he had done. One of those friends called the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

Based on that call, deputies checked on Bortle.

They discovered Bortle's decomposing body in a closet  in his home on July 17, 1987. He had been gagged, his hands were tied behind his back and he was covered with blood. He had been dead for five days.

West was sentenced to death in 1988. The Arizona Supreme Court issued the warrant for his execution in late May, just one day after Donald Edward Beaty was executed by lethal injection for the 1984 rape and murder of Christy Ann Fornoff, 13, of Tempe.