Moments before electricity went through his body, a Tennessee inmate astonished staff with his final words. Edmund Zagorski, convicted for slaying two people, became the first man to be electrocuted in the state for over a decade.
Zagorski, 63, was electrocuted on Thursday night in a Nashville maximum security prison. The US Supreme Court had denied an appeal from the inmate shortly before the execution was set to start.
“Let’s rock,” the man declared when a warden asked if he had any final words, according to reporters present in the death chamber.
Zagorski was said to be smiling while he sat in the wired chair, but his demeanor changed when water from a wet sponge on his freshly shaven head ran down his face. He appeared to try waving with his right hand seconds before jolts of electricity were sent through his body.
The man’s death sentence was delayed for around three weeks when the inmate changed his mind about the method of execution – the electric chair rather than a lethal injection. Zagorski’s attorney, Kelley Henry, argued that the injection was too painful and his client had to choose the “lesser of two evils.”
The inmate had been on death row for more than 34 years after he shot and slit the throats of two men, John Dotson and Jimmy Porter, during a marijuana deal. Relatives of the victims attended the execution.
A small protest against the death penalty was held outside the facility on the day. The gathering was countered by a few people, one of whom shouted: “I hope he catches on fire,” according to the Tennessean.
Zagorski became the second inmate that Tennessee has put to death this year and the first person to die by electric chair in the state since 2007. Only nine states allow the use of the electric chair to carry out a death penalty, but all of them have lethal injection as their primary method. Some 14 other people have been put to death by electrocution since 2000.
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