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Tennessee execution: Stephen Michael West moved to death watch

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 8/13/2019 Mariah Timms
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Death row inmate Stephen Michael West has been moved into a cell next to the execution chamber, where he is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night unless Gov. Bill Lee intervenes.

Prison officials announced the move Tuesday, saying West, 56, had been placed on death watch. Death watch is the three-day period before an execution when a death row inmate is placed under 24-hour observation and stricter rules.

During death watch, West will get daily visits with the prison chaplain. On Wednesday, he will order his last meal.

West is scheduled to die for the 1986 murders of a woman and her 15-year-old daughter in their Union County, Tennessee, home.

Wanda Romines, 51, and Sheila Romines, were both stabbed to death, their hands bound behind their backs.

Sheila had been stabbed 17 times in the stomach. At trial, a forensic pathologist said 14 of those stab wounds were consistent with “torture-type cuts.”

West also was convicted of raping Sheila before she died.

West’s defense team argued he was present during the killings but that a 17-year-old co-defendant, who worked with him at a local McDonald’s restaurant and attended high school with Sheila, actually committed the crimes.

West’s co-defendant pinned the blame on him. West was convicted in 1987 of first-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping.

The co-defendant also was convicted and imprisoned, but he was not eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor at the time of the crime.

West has had multiple execution dates that were delayed during his 32 years on death row.

West’s legal team sent Lee a clemency request that argued severe abuse during his childhood doomed his path and should justify mercy.

Tennessean reporter Adam Tamburin contributed to this report. Reach reporter Mariah Timms at mtimms@tennessean.com or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee execution: Stephen Michael West moved to death watch

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