Arizona executes convicted killer

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

FLORENCE, Ariz. – Arizona executed another convicted killer Tuesday morning.

Thomas Paul West, 52, was executed via lethal injection for the 1987 beating death of a Tucson man. West was the fourth Arizona death-row inmate to be executed this year and the third in as many months.

He was pronounced dead at 11:10 a.m.

According to 3TV's Javier Soto, West didn't have any last words or a final meal before being executed. He said witnesses described the execution as quiet.

The state Supreme Court on Monday refused to block his execution over a challenge involving a sedative used in an Arizona lethal injection earlier this year.

Arizona's clemency board was torn over whether to recommend mercy for West. It ultimately voted 3-2 on Thursday to allow the execution.

West’s execution comes almost exactly 24 years after he beat Donald Bortle to death while robbing his home just outside Tucson.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, 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.

Last month, the state executed Richard Bible for the 1988 murder of a 9-year-old girl.

Eric King, 47, was executed in late March. King was convicted of shooting and killing security guard Richard Butts and convenience store clerk Rob Barman during an armed robbery on Dec. 27, 1989.

In October 2010, the state put Jeffrey Landrigan to death in its first execution since 2007.

Arizona reinstated the death penalty in 1992. It has executed 28 people since then, five of them in the past 10 months alone.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, there are currently 127 people on Arizona’s death row.

Recent executions in Arizona

Thomas West - July 19, 2011

Richard Bible - June 30, 2011

Donald Beaty - May 25, 2011

Eric King - March 29, 2011

Jeffrey Landrigan, Oct. 26, 2010

Robert Charles Comer, May 22, 2007