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Tennessee executes man for 1986 double murder

Tennessee executes man for 1986 double murder

Aug. 16 (UPI) — The Tennessee Department of Correction said it executed a man convicted of killing two people 33 years ago.

“The death sentence of Stephen West was executed by means of electrocution on Aug. 15, 2019, in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee,” the department said in a statement.

West, 56, was convicted of killing 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines, in 1986. He was also found guilty of raping the girl.

West was executed by electric chair at the Riverbed Maximum Security Institution in Nashville and was pronounced dead at 7:27 p.m. Thursday, the corrections department said.

When asked for a final statement, he said, “In the begging God created man,” the Nashville Scene reported.

He then paused and sobbed before concluding, “Jesus wept. That’s all.”

For his last meal, he had a Philly cheesesteak and french fries that were delivered to his cell at 4 p.m.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter read a statement by Eddie Campbell, the nephew of Wanda’s late husband.

“I hope that he has made peace with God and has truly asked God for forgiveness for such a heinous crime that he was a part of,” the statement said.

West had made a last-minute petition for clemency, saying he was coerced into committing the rape by his then-accomplice Ronnie Martin and that he was the one who killed both women, but it was rejected Tuesday by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee who said after a “thorough consideration” of the case the sentence would stand.

“I will not be intervening,” Lee said.

West’s legal team said they were “deeply disappointed” with the decision considering the state had diagnosed West as having “severe mental illness” and the “overwhelming” amount of evidence of his innocence.

“We don’t believe the decisions of the courts and ultimately the governor reflect the forgiving and merciful citizens of this state,” the team said in a statement.

Union County Sheriff Billy Breeding said the deaths of the women “devastated and shocked” the east Tennessee community, WZTV reported.

“I’m proud to say that justice was carried out,” he said in a statement.

The state has executed five people since August of 2018, three of whom had chosen to die by the electric chair.