A man convicted of raping and murdering a child and also murdering her mother has been executed in Tennessee while crying on the electric chair.
For his final words, Stephen West said: “In the beginning, God created man.” He then started to cry, before adding: “And Jesus wept. That is all.”
The 56-year-old’s words appeared to reference Book of Genesis and John 11.35 in the Holy Bible, where Jesus shows empathy for man as he cries for Lazurus’ death before resurrecting him.
West had a Philly cheesesteak and French fries as his last meal.
Independent reports: State officials pronounced him dead at 7.27pm on Thursday at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
West was put on death row for kidnapping and stabbing to death 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her teenage daughter, Sheila Romines, in 1986. He also was convicted of the teenager’s rape.
At the time, West was a 23-year-old McDonald’s employee who had spent three years in the US Army.
In a clemency plea, West claimed that it was his 17-year-old accomplice Ronnie Martin that killed the mother and daughter.
The pair had been driving around drinking before going to the Romines’ home. When Wanda let them inside, they raped Sheila before stabbing the mother and daughter to death.
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 statement, West’s lawyers said they were deeply disappointed the state executed “a man whom the state has diagnosed with severe mental illness; a man of deep faith who has made a positive impact on those around him for decades; and a man who by overwhelming evidence did not commit these murders but has nevertheless taken personal responsibility for his involvement in these crimes.”
Earlier this week, West said he preferred to die in the electric chair after previously voicing no preference, which would have seen him killed by lethal injection by default.