Tennessee executed Stephen Michael West on Thursday night, making him the third person executed by electric chair in the state since November. The Tennessee Department of Correction announced the 56 year old’s death time as 7:27 p.m. CST.
West is the fifth person put to death by the state since August 2018; two other people were put to death in Tennessee by lethal injection in the same time period.
West was sentenced to death after being found guilty in of the deaths of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines, in 1986, as well as the rape of the teenager, according to the Associated Press. West’s lawyers say West did rape the younger Romines, but the pair was stabbed by West’s accomplice, Ronnie Martin, the Tennessean reported earlier this month.
Martin was a minor at the time of the crimes, pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, and is serving a life sentence with parole eligibility in 2030, according to the newspaper. Martin was 17 at the time of the crime, while West was 23, the Associated Press reported.
West’s lawyers pleaded to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for clemency in July. The petition posited that West was not in a position “to deal with the terrible situation he found himself in.” The clemency petition argued that childhood abuse aggravated West’s severe mental illness. “An important question is, if Steve did not intend for either victim to be killed, how could he just stand by and watch while Martin did? The answer to this question lies in Steve’s own tragic background,” the petition stated, according to the Tennessean.
The Tennessean reported that West began to cry as he said the final words from the electric chair: “In the beginning, God created man. And Jesus wept. That’s all.”
West chose to have his death executed via electrocution in place of lethal injection, the newspaper reported. West and the three other people who chose electrocution over lethal injection “had participated in lawsuits challenging Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol,” according to the Tennessean.