Tennessee executes inmate in electric chair for killing mother and daughter in 1986

/ AP

This undated booking photo released by the Tennessee Department of Corrections shows Stephen West. Tennessee Dept. of Corrections

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 in 1986. State officials pronounced 56-year-old Stephen West dead at 7:27 p.m. at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.

This week, West decided he preferred to die in the electric chair after previously voicing no preference, which would have defaulted him to lethal injection. His 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.

Trending News

Tennessee has put two inmates to death by lethal injection since August 2018.

In Tennessee, condemned inmates whose crimes occurred before 1999 can opt for the electric chair.

West's attorney has argued that some "feasible and readily implemented alternative methods of execution exist that significantly reduce the substantial risk of severe pain and suffering" compared with the state's three-drug protocol or electrocution: a single bullet to the back of the head, a firing squad, a "euthanasia oral cocktail" or one-drug pentobarbital, according to a February court filing.

West was one of four death row inmates who sued last year, asking a federal court's permission to use a firing squad as an execution method. Currently, just three states — Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah — continue to allow the use of firing squads. However, the last time that method was used was in 2010.

The last state other than Tennessee to carry out an execution by electrocution was Virginia in 2013, according to Death Penalty Information Center data.

West was found guilty of the kidnapping and stabbing deaths of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines. He also was convicted of the teenager's rape.

In a clemency plea to Gov. Bill Lee, attorneys for West wrote that his then-17-year-old accomplice Ronnie Martin actually killed both Union County victims. West was 23 at the time. Their cases were separated, and while West was sentenced to death, Martin pleaded guilty as a juvenile and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 2030.

In a court filing, the state said West brutally stabbed the victims to death. An expert at West's trial concluded two people were involved in stabbing the teen.

Regardless of the arguments about who killed the women, Tennessee is one of 27 states that allow executions of "non-triggermen" convicted of involvement in a felony resulting in a victim's death, even if they didn't kill anyone themselves, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

West's clemency filing says the jury never heard a jail recording from Martin saying he carried out the killings, not West. But a 1989 state Supreme Court opinion rejected the recording as uncorroborated hearsay that wouldn't have exonerated West.

West's attorney opted against playing the tape at sentencing because the judge would have allowed other recordings in which Martin incriminated West, court records show.

The governor denied West's clemency application, which also said West had been taking powerful medication in prison to treat mental illness.

West's attorneys also said the jury didn't hear about his abusive upbringing because his parents paid for his lead lawyer. They wrote that the abuse created conditions that made West freeze in response to traumatic events.

Another Tennessee execution is scheduled for December.

First published on August 15, 2019 / 9:35 PM

© 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

stephen-west-ap-19212604467681-horizontal.png KCNA picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guiding the test firing of a new weapon

North Korea fires more projectiles, South Korea says

The types of projectiles fired Friday were not immediately identified

19M ago KCNA picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guiding the test firing of a new weapon Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather

Varnish and rubber found in Arctic snow, according to study

The study postulated that the pollutants were potentially carried via air

24M ago Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor seen in video sucker-punching man in bar

The older man appeared unfazed after the retired MMA fighter attacked — and it was all captured on surveillance video

1H ago Conor McGregor knifefree.jpg

U.K. tries to fight knife crime with "racist" chicken box campaign

Hundreds of thousands of boxes printed with the slogan "#knifefree" were sent to fried chicken restaurants around the country

6H ago knifefree.jpg Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up.

Report finds sexual violence at Levi's, Wrangler factories

The Worker Rights Consortium details sexual harassment and abuse at textile factories in Africa making popular brand-name clothing

6H ago Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up. stephen-west-ap-19212604467681-horizontal.png

Tennessee executes inmate in electric chair for double murder

State officials pronounced 56-year-old Stephen West dead at 7:27 p.m. at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville

6M ago stephen-west-ap-19212604467681-horizontal.png US-NAACP-HARRIS

Kamala Harris woos Iowans with message for the middle class

Harris makes her pitch across Iowa this week amid flagging poll numbers, hoping to regain lost ground on tour in her new campaign bus

50M ago US-NAACP-HARRIS Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.

Michael Gargiulo case: Stabbing deaths of three women linked to suspected serial killer

Investigators link murders of Tricia Pacaccio, Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno to same suspect: Michael Gargiulo

58M ago 13 photos Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.  Bill Bratton Resigns As NYC Police Commissioner

NYPD commissioner makes plea to officers after recent suicides

Robert Echeverria died Wednesday night, less than a day after another officer took his own life

1H ago Bill Bratton Resigns As NYC Police Commissioner Michael Gargiulo

Guilty verdict in "Hollywood Ripper" trial in Los Angeles

Prosecutors charged Michael Gargiulo with murdering three women — including 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was friendly with actor Ashton Kutcher

updated 29M ago Michael Gargiulo US-NAACP-HARRIS

Kamala Harris woos Iowans with message for the middle class

Harris makes her pitch across Iowa this week amid flagging poll numbers, hoping to regain lost ground on tour in her new campaign bus

50M ago US-NAACP-HARRIS UPDATED trail-markers-graphic-presidential-4.jpg

2020 Daily Trail Markers: Dems rally to Tlaib, Omar over Israel ban

Trump tweeted that the Israeli government "would show great weakness" if it allowed Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib into the country

1H ago UPDATED trail-markers-graphic-presidential-4.jpg President Trump MAGA rally

Trump rallies supporters in New Hampshire

The president hopes to win a state he narrowly lost in 2016

updated 4M ago President Trump MAGA rally istock16795721large.jpg

If black families had white wealth, economy would be $1.5 trillion bigger

The typical white family in America has 10 times as much as the typical black family—and that hurts everyone

6H ago istock16795721large.jpg cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg

Court says detained migrant children must get soap

Federal judges dismissed the government's argument that providing "safe and sanitary" conditions for detained children doesn't require soap or toothpaste

7H ago cbsn-fusion-reports-migrant-children-face-neglect-at-texas-border-facility-thumbnail-1878028-640x360.jpg alien.jpg

"Storm Area 51" now becoming "Alien Stock" music festival

Before you ask who is performing, the answer is: who knows?

6H ago alien.jpg woodstock-cover-burk-uzzle-color-promo.jpg

Woodstock at 50, in the words, and music, of those who were there

A half-century after a mass of humanity converged on a farm in Bethel, N.Y. for three days of peace and music, musicians and concert-goers recall a unique moment for their generation

Aug 4 woodstock-cover-burk-uzzle-color-promo.jpg Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians

MLB player becomes American citizen years after escaping Cuba

Because of America's relationship with Cuba, Puig had to be smuggled into the country through Mexico

Aug 14 Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley

Reality TV stars plead not guilty to tax evasion charges

Todd Chrisley posted on Instagram on Monday a denial of any wrongdoing and alleged a former employee was "stealing from us big time"

Aug 14 Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley taylorswift-uplift-1911917-640x360.jpg

Taylor Swift sends fan $6,000 for tuition

Taylor Swift just surprised a fan from Canada by sending her more than $6,000 for tuition and rent after reading about her family struggles in a Tumblr post.

Aug 14 01:06 taylorswift-uplift-1911917-640x360.jpg Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral

Funeral homes now live streaming memorial services

Roughly 20% of funeral homes in U.S. offer an online option to grieving family and friends who can't attend the event

3H ago Two Women Dressed in Black and Crying at Funeral School Choice Utah

Overstock shares sink after CEO comments about "Deep State"

Investors are fleeing retailer Overstock after its CEO issued a bizarre statement about the "deep state" and "men in black"

8H ago School Choice Utah Facebook logo on broken cracked mobile phone screen

U.S. lawmaker joins international Facebook investigation

Rep. David Cicilline joins the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and "Fake News," as lawmakers from a dozen countries seek answers on election influencing

7H ago Facebook logo on broken cracked mobile phone screen Real Estate Upstart WeWork Releases Paperwork For Initial Public Offering

WeWork filed its IPO — now meet its We Double

A Wyoming company with a Chinese address and $441 in the bank seems poised to benefit from WeWork's buzzy IPO

Aug 14 Real Estate Upstart WeWork Releases Paperwork For Initial Public Offering 081419-dream3.jpg

Dream Chaser spaceplanes to launch on Vulcan rocket

Sierra Nevada Corp. picks ULA's Vulcan rocket to boost Dream Chaser spaceplanes into orbit

Aug 14 081419-dream3.jpg Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather

Varnish and rubber found in Arctic snow, according to study

The study postulated that the pollutants were potentially carried via air

24M ago Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

On the last day of the month alone, 11 billion tons of ice melted across Greenland — contributing to record low sea ice levels

5H ago Western Greenland Hit By Unseasonably Warm Weather president-theodore-roosevelt-glacier-point-yosemite-national-park-1903-loc.jpg

Nature up close: Theodore Roosevelt, the conservation president

The conservation movement in the U.S. dramatically advanced under the 26th president's watch, as he established 5 national parks, created the National Wildlife Refuge System and U.S. Forest Service, and oversaw the protection of 230,000,000 acres

8H ago president-theodore-roosevelt-glacier-point-yosemite-national-park-1903-loc.jpg my-post-49.png

12-year-old discovers apparent woolly mammoth tooth in Ohio

Jackson Hepner was taking photos with his family when he spotted the giant tooth along the edge of a creek

22H ago my-post-49.png Food and Farm Dehorning Cows

This university is banning beef to fight climate change

"Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words," the school's warden said

Aug 14 Food and Farm Dehorning Cows Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings

FDA wants to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs

In a move to amplify the health risks, images would show neck tumors, feet with amputated toes and diseased lungs

1H ago Handout photo of an rtist's rendition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed cigarette packaging carrying graphic new health warnings Stress comes with the territory

Crying on the job? 8 in 10 workers say they've sobbed at work

Workplace weeping is a common experience, with almost half of workers blaming their boss or colleagues

12H ago Stress comes with the territory Rotem Amitai is seen in an undated photo provided by her family.

Flight attendant diagnosed with measles after N.Y. flight has died

El Al flight attendant Rotem Amitai was diagnosed with measles after flying from New York to Israel

22H ago Rotem Amitai is seen in an undated photo provided by her family. novartis

Brother scientists no longer at Novartis after drug scandal

Brian Kaspar and Allan Kaspar have left the drugmaker after the FDA said the company could face criminal penalties

Aug 14 novartis 0814-ctm-dementia-narula.jpg

Tips for lowering blood pressure, which may cut dementia risk

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found a link between high blood pressure and dementia

Aug 14 0814-ctm-dementia-narula.jpg Baseball player expression losing sucks

U.S. kids are quitting sports amid rising costs, inequality

Youth sports participation is rising among richer families, as children lower down the ladder exit the field

9H ago Baseball player expression losing sucks Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York

Stocks whipsaw amid recession fears, China's threat

Financial markets stabilize after Wednesday's 800 point plunge amid recession signals and China's trade war threats

4H ago Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso

Walmart CEO: Time to debate an assault weapons ban

America's largest retailer estimates it represents about 2% of the U.S. firearms market and about 20% of ammo sales

7H ago FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands next to a police cordon after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso Stress comes with the territory

Crying on the job? 8 in 10 workers say they've sobbed at work

Workplace weeping is a common experience, with almost half of workers blaming their boss or colleagues

12H ago Stress comes with the territory Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up.

Report finds sexual violence at Levi's, Wrangler factories

The Worker Rights Consortium details sexual harassment and abuse at textile factories in Africa making popular brand-name clothing

6H ago Sewing machine repair jeans trousers, close-up. stephen-west-ap-19212604467681-horizontal.png

Tennessee executes inmate in electric chair for double murder

State officials pronounced 56-year-old Stephen West dead at 7:27 p.m. at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville

6M ago stephen-west-ap-19212604467681-horizontal.png ap6608010465.jpg

America's deadliest mass shootings

These are the deadliest mass shootings in American history

Aug 5 40 photos ap6608010465.jpg 0815-cbsn-martinezripperpkg-1913005-640x360.jpg

"Hollywood Ripper" guilty of murders

The "Hollywood Ripper" murder trial verdict was read Thursday with the jury finding Michael Gargiulo guilty of two murders and guilty of one attempted murder in California. Prosecutors accused 43-year-old Gargiulo of murdering three women — including Ashley Ellerin, 22, who was friendly with Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. Chris Martinez has the latest from Los Angeles.

updated 14M ago 01:29 0815-cbsn-martinezripperpkg-1913005-640x360.jpg Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.

Michael Gargiulo case: Stabbing deaths of three women linked to suspected serial killer

Investigators link murders of Tricia Pacaccio, Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno to same suspect: Michael Gargiulo

58M ago 13 photos Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.  Michael Gargiulo

Guilty verdict in "Hollywood Ripper" trial in Los Angeles

Prosecutors charged Michael Gargiulo with murdering three women — including 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was friendly with actor Ashton Kutcher

updated 29M ago Michael Gargiulo cbsn-fusion-milky-way-black-hole-emits-mysterious-light-flare-thumbnail-1912999-640x360.jpg

Space

Milky Way black hole emits mysterious light flare

Scientists spot a flare of light coming from a black hole in the Milky Way. Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown explains to CBSN how the mysterious event may have occurred.

updated 14M ago 06:27 cbsn-fusion-milky-way-black-hole-emits-mysterious-light-flare-thumbnail-1912999-640x360.jpg 081419-dream3.jpg

Dream Chaser spaceplanes to launch on Vulcan rocket

Sierra Nevada Corp. picks ULA's Vulcan rocket to boost Dream Chaser spaceplanes into orbit

Aug 14 081419-dream3.jpg The supermassive black hole located 26,000 light years from Earth in the center of the Milky Way.

Our galaxy's black hole suddenly flashed a bright light

Scientists called the flashes "unprecedented"

updated 27M ago The supermassive black hole located 26,000 light years from Earth in the center of the Milky Way. US-astronomy-meteor-Perseid

How to watch the Perseid meteor shower peak Monday night

Anyone trying to watch the Perseid meteor shower should try to stay away from bright city lights

Aug 12 US-astronomy-meteor-Perseid ebbdvtjx4aacxou.jpg

A meteor large enough to see from Earth just hit Jupiter

The rare moment was captured with nothing more than a backyard telescope in Texas

Aug 9 ebbdvtjx4aacxou.jpg Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.

Michael Gargiulo case: Stabbing deaths of three women linked to suspected serial killer

Investigators link murders of Tricia Pacaccio, Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno to same suspect: Michael Gargiulo

58M ago 13 photos Ashley Ellerin, left, Tricia Pacaccio, center, and Maria Bruno.  1slide-the-worst-movies-of-2019-ranked.jpg

The worst movies of 2019

The worst films of the year star big name actors, including Keanu Reeves, Anne Hathaway, and Chris Hemsworth.

Aug 9 51 photos 1slide-the-worst-movies-of-2019-ranked.jpg jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo

A traveling exhibition of gothic and occult art, sideshow performers, and bizarre specimens stopped outside Chicago, where CBS News photographer Jake Barlow took in the odd sights

Jul 22 24 photos jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg gettyimages-486106944.jpg

New York's Central Park

America's first major landscaped public park, the 840-acre park in Manhattan welcomes more than 37 million visitors every year

Jul 21 25 photos gettyimages-486106944.jpg Charles Manson

Manson Family murders: The terrifying story in pictures

A look at the cult slayings that shocked – and scared – America

Jul 3 44 photos Charles Manson 0815-cbsn-martinezripperpkg-1913005-640x360.jpg

Popular

"Hollywood Ripper" guilty of murders

The "Hollywood Ripper" murder trial verdict was read Thursday with the jury finding Michael Gargiulo guilty of two murders and guilty of one attempted murder in California. Prosecutors accused 43-year-old Gargiulo of murdering three women — including Ashley Ellerin, 22, who was friendly with Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. Chris Martinez has the latest from Los Angeles.

updated 14M ago 01:29 0815-cbsn-martinezripperpkg-1913005-640x360.jpg 0815-rnb-israelcongresswoman-xraxqw-1913001-640x360.jpg

Israel bars Omar and Tlaib

Emma Green, who covers politics, policy, and religion for the Atlantic, joined "Red & Blue" to discuss how much influence the Trump administration may have had on Israel's decision to bar U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.

updated 24M ago 08:54 0815-rnb-israelcongresswoman-xraxqw-1913001-640x360.jpg cbsn-fusion-milky-way-black-hole-emits-mysterious-light-flare-thumbnail-1912999-640x360.jpg

Milky Way black hole emits mysterious light flare

Scientists spot a flare of light coming from a black hole in the Milky Way. Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown explains to CBSN how the mysterious event may have occurred.

updated 14M ago 06:27 cbsn-fusion-milky-way-black-hole-emits-mysterious-light-flare-thumbnail-1912999-640x360.jpg master-farming-climate-1920x1080notyt-1898130-640x360.jpg

A climate reckoning in the heartland

A historic flood in March 2019 left much of America's heartland under water. Grain farmers already struggling to bounce back from the Chinese trade war must now grapple with the realities of climate change that threaten to change the future of farming forever. Now, some farmers are implementing practices that could potentially reverse the effects of climate change – and provide a bigger profit. In this CBSN Originals documentary, Adam Yamaguchi travels to Nebraska, where he meets two farmers on different paths, both determined to pass their legacies on to the next generation.

Jul 26 23:07 master-farming-climate-1920x1080notyt-1898130-640x360.jpg cbsn-fusion-july-2019-earth-hottest-month-on-record-thumbnail-1912742-640x360.jpg

July was Earth's hottest month on record

July 2019 is now officially the hottest month on record. The average global temperature last month was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday. CBSN contributing meteorologist Jeff Berardelli explains.

1H ago 05:28 cbsn-fusion-july-2019-earth-hottest-month-on-record-thumbnail-1912742-640x360.jpg