Inmate's Last Words in Electric Chair: 'Jesus Wept'

Tennessee executes man for murder of mother, daughter
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2019 1:20 AM CDT
Tennessee Executes Inmate by Electric Chair
Ralph Hutchison lights candles at a vigil, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn., for death row inmate Stephen Michael West.   (Saul Young/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

On Thursday night, Tennessee executed an inmate in the electric chair at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, marking the chair's third use since November. Stephen Michael West, convicted of murdering a mother and her teenage daughter in their home in 1986, chose the method over lethal injection earlier this week. The 56-year-old delivered his last words when he was already strapped into the chair with sponges around his legs, the Tennessean reports. "In the beginning, God created man," he said, sobbing. "And Jesus wept. That's all." He was pronounced dead at 7:27pm, eight minutes after the first of two rounds of electric current was sent through his body. West was a 23-year-old McDonald's shift manager when Wanda Romines, 51, and Sheila Romines, 15, were stabbed to death in their Union County home.

West's attorneys had pleaded for clemency, arguing that he was severely abused as a child. They also argued that co-defendant Ronnie Martin, 17 at the time of the crime, was the real killer, the AP reports. Prosecutors said both men took part in the horrific murders, in which both women were tied up and tortured in front of each other in an ordeal that may have lasted hours. West was also convicted of raping the 15-year-old. Martin is serving a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2030. Eddie Campbell, Wanda Romines' nephew, issued a statement after the execution, WVLT reports. "I just wish that my Uncle Jack Romines, the father and husband of the two people that meant the most to him in his life was so brutally murdered on March 17, 1986, could have lived long enough to know that the State of Tennessee finally brought justice in part for his loss," he said. Jack Romines died from a heart attack in 2008. (More Tennessee stories.)

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