Attorneys for death row inmate Stephen Michael West have sought to delay his execution set for next month with a complaint filed in Davidson County Chancery Court.
The complaint filed Monday claims officials of the Tennessee Department of Correction haven’t followed proper protocol in West’s case, and that execution by electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth and 14th Amendments.
West is currently being held at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution and is to be electrocuted 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 teenager.
He is due in court on Friday.
West’s suit claims that under the new execution protocol enacted in April 2007, those who committed a crime before Jan. 1, 1999, and are sentenced to death should be allowed to elect electrocution or lethal injection within 30 days before the execution date.
Those who committed a death-penalty crime after Jan. 1, 1999, are to be executed by lethal injection following the new protocol.
While West signed a form electing electrocution for a previous execution date in March 2001, that execution never happened. According to the complaint, he has since not been given a new form as provided by the new execution protocol, even though the complaint claims other inmates have.
The complaint also asks the court to rule execution by electrocution unconstitutional under both the state and federal constitutions, listing numerous accounts of grisly scenes of botched executions.
Assistant Federal Community Defender Stephen A. Ferrell filed the complaint and on behalf of West. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The filing names Correction Commissioner Gayle Ray, Deputy Commissioner David Mills, Assistant Commissioner of Operations Reuben Hodge and Riverbend Warden Ricky Bell, along with John Doe executioners, as defendants.
The attorney general's office has 30 days to respond.