A double murderer wept as he quoted the bible in his final words before he was executed by electric chair in Tennessee.
Stephen West said: “In the beginning, God created man” before starting to cry and adding: “And Jesus wept. That is all” as he was executed on Thursday evening at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
The 56-year-old, who had maintained he didn’t stab a mother and her 15-year-old daughter to death in 1986, is the third person to be executed in Tennessee in the electric chair since November.
West had opted for the electric chair rather than lethal injection.
West was found guilty of kidnapping and stabbing 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her daughter Sheila Romines to death, as well as the rape of 15-year-old Sheila, when he was 23.
His lawyers claimed that his then 17-year-old accomplice Ronnie Martin actually killed both victims.
An expert at West’s trial concluded that two people were involved in stabbing the teen, but the cases were heard separately 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.
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.
The last state other than Tennessee to carry out an execution by electrocution was Virginia in 2013, according to Death Penalty Information Centre data.
West was one of four death row inmates who appealed to the federal court to use a firing squad as an execution method but only three states — Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah — continue to allow the use of firing squads, which hasn’t been used since 2010.