Lee denies clemency in Tennessee execution; Stephen West opts for electric chair

Posted at 9:46 AM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 15:08:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Governor Bill Lee has denied clemency for death row inmate Stephen West, who has selected the electric chair as his method of execution.

The Tennessee Department of Correction said Wednesday that West has chosen to be put to death by electrocution. Offenders whose crimes were committed before Jan. 1, 1999 are given the choice between lethal injection or electrocution per Tennessee law.

West was moved to death watch shortly after midnight Tuesday. Death watch protocol is a three-day period in which strict guidelines are implemented to maintain security and control.

His attorneys petitioned for a stay of execution after the governor denied clemency on Tuesday. Click here to read the petition.

The governor released the following statement:

“After thorough consideration of Stephen West’s request for clemency and a review of the case, the State of Tennessee’s sentence will stand, and I will not be intervening.”

West was found guilty of the 1986 kidnapping and stabbing deaths of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines, and of raping the teen.

He received a death sentence in 1987.

In a clemency plea, attorneys for Stephen West say his then 17-year-old accomplice, Ronnie Martin, actually killed both victims.

Read more: Facing execution, Tennessee inmate says he wasn't a killer

West was 23 at the time. Their cases were separated, and while West was sentenced to death, Martin pleaded guilty and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 2030 as a juvenile.

West recently declined to choose the method of his execution. A non-decision results in his death by lethal injection.

Four inmates have been executed in Tennessee since August 2018.