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seeking a temporary injunction filed last week by West’s defense attorney stated the inmate’s “Old Election Form” was no longer valid and that the state should have provided him with a new election form not less than 30 days before his execution.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