Stephen West, Tennessee

Updated: Saturday, August 17, 2019 10:59 am EDT

On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, we incorrectly reported that the Tennessee Department of Corrections announced that Stephen West would be executed by lethal injection, when the Tennessee Department of Corrections announced that they would honor Stephen’s request to be executed by electric chair. This article has been updated to include that correction.

Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2019 8:43 pm EDT

Stephen West has been executed by the state of Tennessee. Read more here.

Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2019 6:55 pm EDT

The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a request to halt the execution of Stephen West.

Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:12 pm EDT

Stephen West has requested to be executed by the electric chair instead of by lethal injection. One month prior to their execution, inmates are given the choice between lethal injection and the electric chair. If inmates fail to make a selection, like Stephen, lethal injection becomes the default method. However, Stephen has now requested to be executed by the electric chair. A spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Corrections has announced that the execution will be carried out by electric chair.

Updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 6:06 pm EDT

Governor Bill Lee has rejected a request from clemency for Stephen West. Governor Lee stated that after a thorough review of the case, the decision of the state of Tennessee will stand.

Updated: Monday, August 12, 2019 9:12 am EDT

Stephen Michael West is scheduled to be executed at 7:10 pm CST, on Thursday, August 15, 2019, at the Riverbed Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Fifty-six-year-old Stephen has been convicted of the rape and murder of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her daughter 15-year-old Sheila on March 17, 1986, in Lake City, Tennessee. Stephen has spent the last 31 years on Tennessee’s death row.

Stephen was born in a mental institution, where his mother was hospitalized. According to Stephen’s sister, Stephen was abused by his mother as a child. Stephen’s father was an alcoholic who became violent when he drank. Stephen graduated high school, where he was an honor student and never had any disciplinary problems. Stephen joined the military and served for three years in Germany. According to Stephen’s attorney, his military records showed that Stephen had a drug and alcohol problem during his service. Stephen had no criminal record. At the time of his arrest, Stephen was married and his wife was pregnant. Prior to his arrest, Stephen worked at McDonalds.

On March 17, 1986, then-23-year-old Stephen West and 17-year-old co-worker Ronnie Martin left their job and drove around for several hours, drinking. Martin, in whose car they were driving, eventually suggested to West that he knew a girl. Martin and West drove to the home of Sheila Romines, one of Martin’s classmate who had previously refused his advances and embarrassed him in front of other students.

The two waited outside of the home until Mr. Romines left for work. They then knocked on the door to the Romines’ home shortly after 5:20 am and were let in by Sheila’s mother, Wanda. Between 6:00 am and 8:30 am, Wanda and Sheila were raped and murdered. Wanda received several deep stab wounds and torture-type wounds, according to a forensic pathologist. Sheila received 17 stab wounds in the abdomen, 14 of which were torture-type wounds. It was also determined that two different knives were used, likely by two different people.

 

West and Martin were arrested the following day. Each was charged separately. Martin was too young to receive the death penalty and was given two life sentences. West claimed that although he was present for the crime, he did not participate in the murders. He also alleged that Martin threatened to kill him and his wife he went to the police. West was ultimately sentenced to death.

 

Stephen West was previously scheduled to be executed on February 10, 2015. That execution was stayed due to an ongoing legal battle over the state’s execution protocol.  He had also been scheduled to be executed in 2001, after he decided to drop all his appeals.  Just hours before his scheduled execution, Stephen chose to resume his appeals.

 

The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the ruling of a lower court that dismissed Stephen's challenge of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol. Stephen has also requested clemency from Governor Bill Lee, claiming that mental illness should prevent him from being executed.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Wanda and Sheila Romines. Please pray for the family of Stephen. Please pray that if Stephen is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed or should not be executed for any other reason, evidence will be presented before he is executed. Please pray that Stephen will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

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