Tennessee executed its third inmate in the electric chair since November, killing a man Thursday who maintained that he didn’t stab a mother and her 15-year-old daughter to death.
State officials pronounced 56-year-old Stephen West dead at 7.27pm at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville and described how his pinky finger moved the first time electricity flowed through his body but noted the second pulse did not do anything visibly and that it was over in five minutes.
For his final words, West said, ‘In the beginning, God created man.’ Then he started to cry and continued, ‘And Jesus wept. That is all.’
West had a Philly cheesesteak and french fries as his last meal.
Stephen West has made a last minute request to be put to death in the electric chair instead of dying by lethal injection. He previously opted against selecting a preference, which would have resulted in lethal injection
Stephen West is set to be executed for the murder of 51-year-old Wanda Romines, left, and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines, right. West was also convicted of raping the teen.
Officials described how his pinky finger moved the first time electricity flowed through his body but noted the second pulse did not do anything visibly and it was over in five minutes
The inmate who says his 17-year-old accomplice, Ronnie Martin, was the one who fatally stabbed Wanda Romines, 51, and her daughter, Sheila in 1986 at the last minute decided he preferred to die in the electric chair after previously voicing no preference, which would have defaulted him to lethal injection.
Gov. Bill Lee had denied West’s clemency application, which also said West has been taking powerful medication to treat mental illness.
This week, West’s attorney in a court filing wrote that the electric chair is ‘also unconstitutional, yet still less painful’ compared with the state’s preference of a three-drug lethal injection.
Attorneys for inmates David Miller and Edmund Zagorski made the same arguments before they chose to die by the electric chair in 2018. Both unsuccessfully argued to courts that Tennessee’s procedure, which uses the drug midazolam, results in a prolonged and torturous death.
But officials said after the execution a lethal injection would have taken double the time at 11 minutes.
West was sentenced in 1987 for ‘brutally stabbing to death’ the two victims.
Double murderer West is shown in a 1998 Tennesseee Department of Corrections photo
The juvenile co-defendant was also convicted and received a life sentence, with parole possible in 2030 but he was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age at the time of the crime.
The two men worked together at McDonald’s and Martin was a classmate of Sheila. Martin is reported to have blamed West.
West was 23 at the time.
Wanda was reportedly found face down in her bed with her arms tied behind her back. Sheila suffered 17 stab wounds to her stomach.
Eddie Campbell was friends with Wanda’s husband and Sheila’s father, Jack.
Speaking in 2018, he told WBIR: ‘Jack died in 2008. He was such a great guy. He never got to see justice for his wife, Wanda, and his daughter, Sheila.
‘Many times in life, he told me to make sure justice was done. Steve West killed them in 1986 and he is still on death row 10 years after Jack has died. Nobody should be on death row 32 years. It is ridiculous.’
Steve West, right, watches as his attorney, Richard McConnell takes notes during closing arguments in his murder trial in this photo taken March 24, 1987 at the Union County Criminal Court in Maynardville