A man on death row is scheduled to be executed by electrocution Thursday night. The US Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for Stephen West. A very familiar face to all of us has been meeting with West.
The drive to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution is one made many times by 43-year sportscaster Rudy Kalis. As part of the Men of Valor prison ministry, Kalis first visited death row two years ago and met West.
More than 30 years ago, West and Ronnie Martin were convicted in the murders of Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter Sheila.
Kalis said he knows about the decades of pain this case brought to a family.
Kalis believed the most important outreach he could do was on death row. He became West's spiritual advisor, metting with him several times a week and doing Bible studies on Sunday nights.
"He's been a man of faith for 32 years," said Kalis. "I look at him from the standpoint of who he is now, and where is he going to spend his eternity?"
"When seven o'clock comes tonight, I'll probably shed a tear," he continued. "In seconds after it happens, he will be with our Lord."
Kalis believes he'll have one last phone call with West before that happens.
"The conversation will be, 'I love you. I pray for your peace and in that moment and that transition of time, the Lord will welcome you with open arms," said Kalis. "You get to see our Lord before I do, face to face. For Steve, because I know he's a man of faith, I pray that he has peace in that final moment."
Kalis also said he spoke to Governor Bill Lee two weeks ago, hoping West would not be executed. Kalis said he's disappointed by the outcome, but he said he knows the governor is a man of faith and this was a hard decision.