Tennessee to execute man convicted of killing teenage girl, her mother in 1986

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(Reuters) – A man convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl and stabbing her and her mother to death in their home with a coworker more than 30 years ago is set to be executed in Tennessee on Thursday.

Stephen Michael West, 56, is scheduled to be put to death by electric chair at 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.

West would become 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.

As of Thursday, West had a request pending with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution and review his case.

Separately, an appeals court stayed the execution of Dexter Johnson in Texas, which was also scheduled for Thursday.

A jury convicted West of several crimes, including two counts of first-degree murder, and sentenced him to die in 1987 for the killings of 15-year-old Sheila Romines, a classmate of his accomplice Ronnie Martin, and her mother Wanda Romines.

On March 17, 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, court papers said.

After a few hours, Martin and West went to the Romines’ home, court papers said.

Authorities said the two men 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.

Once inside, the men raped Sheila, who had rebuffed Martin’s advances at school, and stabbed both Sheila and Wanda to death.

West and Martin were arrested the next day, court documents showed.

Martin, who was a juvenile at the time, received a life sentence after he pleaded guilty. He has the possibility of parole in 2030.

West has unsuccessfully appealed his case in state and federal courts. He challenged the state’s lethal injection protocol and argued that jail house recordings of Martin discussing the crime with a fellow inmate showed that he was not responsible for the murders.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool and Bernadette Baum

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