A man convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl and stabbing her and her mother to death in their home with a teenage accomplice more than 30 years ago was executed in Tennessee on Thursday, officials said. Stephen Michael West, 56, was put to death by electric chair and was pronounced dead at 7:27 p.m. local time (2327 GMT) at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, the state Department of Correction said in a statement.
West became the second inmate in Tennessee and the 11th in the United States to be executed in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The last inmate to be executed by electric chair was David Miller, 61, in Tennessee in December. West appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution, but the high court denied the request.
Separately, an appeals court stayed an execution, which had also been scheduled for Thursday, of a man who was found guilty of murdering two people and other charges. In 1987, a jury convicted West of several crimes, including two counts of first-degree murder, and sentenced him to die for the killings of 15-year-old Sheila Romines, a classmate of his accomplice Ronnie Martin, and her mother Wanda Romines.
In 1986, West, who was 23 at the time, and 17-year-old Martin left their jobs at a McDonald's in Lake City, Tennessee. The pair drove around and drank in Martin's car and, after a few hours, went to the Romines' home, court papers said. Authorities said West and Martin waited in front of the home until Sheila Romines' father left for work at 5:20 a.m. They then knocked on the door and Wanda Romines let them into the house.
Martin received a life sentence after he pleaded guilty. 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. He has the possibility of parole in 2030. West unsuccessfully appealed his case in state and federal courts, challenging the state's lethal injection protocol and arguing that jailhouse recordings of Martin discussing the crime with a fellow inmate showed West was not responsible for the murders.
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