Judge says inmate can’t choose execution method

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 5:29pm

Death row inmate Stephen Michael West is now set to die by lethal injection instead of the death by electrocution fate he once faced.

He still maintains, however, that the state’s protocol for lethal injection makes it unconstitutional and is asking the Chancery Court to intervene.

An order filed by Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman on Monday states that West is no longer bound by a 2001 execution election form by which he previously chose to die in the electric chair.

Bonnyman’s order also states that West is no longer required to choose his method of execution, something he said he wouldn’t do anyway, according to the state.

West is currently held at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution and is to be executed Nov. 9. He was convicted in 1987 of stabbing to death Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter, Sheila Romines, as well as raping the teen.

A new motion seeking a temporary injunction also filed Monday on West’s behalf states that when performed according to protocol the state’s lethal injection execution causes death by suffocation, which it stated has been ruled torture by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It adds that autopsies performed after the state’s executions of Philip Workman, Robert Coe and Steve Henley showed the lethal agent was pancuronium bromide, which can cause death by suffocation.

A previous complaint seeking a temporary injunction filed last week by West’s defense attorney stated the inmate’s “Old Election Form” was no longer valid and that the state should have provided him with a new election form not less than 30 days before his execution.

On Oct. 12, West sent a letter to the state advising that he wanted to rescind his Feb. 13, 2001, choice of electrocution but made no choice of a new execution method.

Last week, the state responded arguing that West’s original execution election form was still valid and although the state’s execution protocol underwent changes in 2007 West’s case shouldn’t be affected.

But since “the [state] defendants have no desire to litigate this issue,” the state accepted West’s rescission of choice of execution, which means he would be executed by lethal injection rather than his previous choice of electrocution.

Therefore, according to the state, there’s no need for West to get a new election form a month prior to his execution date.

 

Stephen Ferrell, West’s federal defender, did not return calls seeking comment.

3 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 10/27/10 at 1:09

I understand West's fear of getting stuck with that needle. He probably wants to be executed because he thinks it'll be a WHAM! and he won't know what hit him. You know, quick and easy.

If he doesn't want to be executed by the government's method, I'd say lets just simplify it and execute him the way he killed those young girls. Count the number of stab wounds he gave them and give him the same number plus one more, just make sure it did the job.

By: Magnum on 10/27/10 at 2:25

Who cares what his election is? He killed two people. I say give him the form and then execute using the method he didn't select.

One more thing...he killed in 1987. Why does it take over 20 years to get this done? I bet taxpayers have spent well over $1 million between court, medical and confinement costs.

Rather than the government determining the costs for housing and feeding such a ruthless, death-row inmate and then charging us for those costs, maybe they ought to ask the taxpayers to contribute what they think he is worth. Once that runs out, off to the little room you go.

By: rebeccaperona on 10/29/10 at 9:35

i'm with both of you. absolutely ridiculous it took this long to execute him. while we were sitting there paying for his shelter, meals, showers, and everything else. and i definitely agree with yogiman, i think people who get put on death row for murder or rape, should die the same way they killed those people. too many politics for that nonsense - "A new motion seeking a temporary injunction also filed Monday on West’s behalf states that when performed according to protocol the state’s lethal injection execution causes death by suffocation, which it stated has been ruled torture by the U.S. Supreme Court." - this disgusts me ... ruled torture?!?! are they kidding?!?! what do they consider raping and stabbing??? fun for all??? our country is not what it used to be.... very sad... our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew half of the stuff that goes on nowadays. =( all we can do is pray and vote i guess???