Arizona high court refuses to block execution

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court is refusing to block an execution scheduled for Tuesday, turning away a challenge to the state's lethal-injection law.

The challenge turned away Monday was filed over the weekend on behalf of four death-row inmates, including Thomas Paul West, 52. He is scheduled to be executed by injection Tuesday morning for the 1987 killing of a man near Tucson.

The challenge argued that the injection law is unconstitutional because the Legislature gave unfettered discretion to the Corrections Department on how to conduct executions.

A last-minute filing argued that two different sedatives were used in a March execution in violation of the state's execution protocol. A state prosecutor responded that only one sedative was used but that it changes into the other sedative once in the body.

West is set to be executed 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.