Tennessee Inmate Stephen West Executed via Electric Chair

Under Tennessee law those convicted before 1999 can choose between lethal injection and electrocution

Under Tennessee law those convicted before 1999 can choose between lethal injection and electrocution

Before he is executed, West will also be served a Philly cheesesteak and French fries as a final meal.

West was pronounced dead at 7:27 p.m., said the Tennessee Department of Correction.

"The death sentence of Stephen West was executed by means of electrocution on August 15, 2019, in accordance with the laws of the state of Tennessee", a statement sent to Fox News from the department read.

Stephen West, 56, was executed by electric chair on Thursday for the rape and murder of teenager Sheila Romains and the murder of Sheila's mum Wanda in 1986.

He then paused and sobbed before concluding, "Jesus wept".

This week, West's 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.

In November previous year, Edmund Zagorski, 63, opted for the electric chair, as did David Earl Miller, 61, a month later.

He died after approximately five minutes in the chair, while it would have taken up to 11 minutes had he been given a lethal injection. The last inmate to be executed by electric chair was David Miller, 61, in Tennessee in December. Martin pleaded guilty to two counts murder and is now serving a life sentence.

West's death marks the state's third electric chair execution since November.

But regardless of who was said to have killed the women, Tennessee is one of 27 states that allow executions of "non-triggermen" involved in a crime that led to a victim's death, even if they did not kill anyone themselves.

Jack Campbell, whose uncle was the husband and father of the victims, lamented the legal system.

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. He said he has forgiveness in his heart for West and Martin but doesn't think justice should be ignored.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that inmates who were younger than 18 when they committed a capital crime are ineligible for the death penalty.

The governor denied West's clemency application, which also detailed the convicted killer's childhood abuse and stated that he had been taking powerful medication in prison to treat mental illness caused or exacerbated by that abuse.