Edmund Zagorski: Death row inmate becomes first man killed by electric chair in Tennessee for more than a decade

'Let's rock' were inmates last words after conviction in 1983 double murder

Chris Stevenson
Friday 02 November 2018 03:44 GMT
Wife of Edmund Zagorski victim says execution wait should not have 'lingered on'

A convicted double murderer has been executed by electrocution in Tennessee – the first man in the state to be killed that way since 2007.

The Supreme Court turned down the last minute appeals of Edmund Zagorski, 63, without comment. However, Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from that opinion, writing that she had concerns over the use of both the electric chair and lethal injection. Zagorski had refused the use of the injection.

Asked if he had any last words in the death chamber, the inmate said “Let’s rock” shortly before the execution was carried out. Zagorski had asked for the electric chair over lethal injection believing it would be a quicker and less painful way to die.

Zagorski was pronounced dead at 7:26pm on Thursday at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, officials said. For his last meal, Zagorski chose pickled pig knuckles and pig tails.

He became only the second person to die in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960. Across the US only 14 other people have been put to death in the electric chair since 2000, including a Virginia inmate in 2013.

Zagorski was convicted of killing of two men during a drug deal. Prosecutors said Zagorski shot John Dotson and Jimmy Porter and then cut their throats after robbing them. The two men had come to him to buy a large amount of marijuana.

Speaking ahead of the execution Marsha Dotson, widow of John Dotson said, siad the killing of her husband had “ruined her”

“For 34 years, they’ve let his killer sit on death row,” she told The Tenessean. “If they were going to kill him, they should have killed him years ago.”

“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,” Justice Sotomayor said in the statement. “Given what most people think of the electric chair, it’s hard to imagine a more striking testament — from a person with more at stake — to the legitimate fears raised by the lethal-injection drugs that Tennessee uses.”

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In Tennessee, condemned inmates whose crimes occurred before 1999 can choose the electric chair. It is one of six states that allow that choice.

The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether use of the electric chair violates the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but it came close about 20 years ago following a series of electrocutions in Florida. During two executions in the 1990s smoke and flames shot from the condemned inmates’ heads.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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