Published: Fri, November 02, 2018

Tennessee set to use electric chair for 1st time since 2007

Tennessee set to use electric chair for 1st time since 2007

Zagorski's lawyer Kelley Henry said the state had forced him to "choose between two absolutely barbaric methods of death". He did not move once the procedure was over.

Zagorski was the second inmate executed in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960. Zagorski's attorneys had argued it was unconstitutional to force him to choose between the electric chair and lethal injection.

Edmund Zagorski, who had requested that the state not use lethal injection, was pronounced dead at 7:36 p.m.at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, the Tennessee Department of Correction said in a statement.

After Zagorski chose the electric chair, Gov. Bill Haslam issued a reprieve of 10 days to prepare for the execution.

His attorneys argued the lethal injection would make him spend the last few minutes of his life in "utter terror and agony" while the electric chair would only cause him "excruciating pain for (likely) 15-30 seconds", CNN reported, citing court documents. The state came close to administering a chemical injection to the 63-year-old inmate three weeks ago, but that execution was stopped by the governor when Zagorski exercised his right to request the electric chair.

In the final moments before Edmund Zagorski was executed in the electric chair, he alternated between grimacing and smiling as he prepared for the volts of electricity to go through his body.

The Supreme Court said Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

A lawyer for Zagorski says he chose the electric chair as "the lesser of two evils".

Officials initially had meant to perform a lethal injection, which has become more common, but Zagorski challenged the state's use of a three-drug cocktail that includes the controversial sedative midazolam.

Zagorski was convicted of an April 1983 double slaying.


Relatives of the two men Zagorski killed attended the execution.

"He did so not because he thought that it was a humane way to die, but because he thought that the three-drug cocktail that Tennessee had planned to use was even worse", Sotomayor said in the statement.

In 1997, flames up to a foot (0.33 meter) high burst from the mask covering the face of Florida convict Pedro Medina while he was in the electric chair, and the execution chamber filled with smoke.

Zagorski made his choice just two months after Billy Ray Irick was executed by lethal injection in Tennessee.

Reporter Adam Tamburin, with the Tennessean newspaper, described Zagorski as having a grin on his face at one time, until a sponge and helmet were put over his face. Every state now requires juries to weigh that option in death penalty cases.

"What I'm anxious about now is Tennessee's got an electric chair that's going to hurt someone or cause problems".

The device was originally rebuilt in the late 1980s by a self-taught execution expert, Fred Leuchter, who feared the device would malfunction on Thursday. He became only the second person to die in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960.

According to CBS affiliate WTVF, Miller has spent longer time than any other Tennessee inmate on death row.

Protesters held vigils Thursday in Knoxville and Memphis, and outside the Nashville maximum-security prison where Zagorski was executed Thursday. There some raised a banner with the words: "A Free Tennessee is Execution-Free".

Like this: