November 1, 2018 / 10:28 AM / 15 days ago

Tennessee executes double murderer in electric chair

(Reuters) - A 63-year-old convicted double murderer was put to death by electrocution in Tennessee on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his last-minute appeals, state corrections officials said.

Death Row inmate Edmund Zagorski is shown in this undated photo provided November 1, 2018. Tennessee Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

Edmund Zagorski, who had requested that the state not use lethal injection, was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, the Tennessee Department of Correction said in a written statement.

The Supreme Court had hours earlier rejected his final appeals without comment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from that opinion, writing that she had concerns over the use of both the electric chair and lethal injection.

For his last meal, Zagorski chose pickled pig knuckles and pig tails, Tennessee corrections officials said on Wednesday.

Zagorski, who was found guilty of killing two men in 1983 who were carrying a large amount of cash in order to buy 100 pounds of marijuana, is the first U.S. inmate executed by electrocution since 2013.

Lawyers for Zagorski said he believed that compared with the state’s lethal injection mix, the electric chair would be a less painful option.

In October the Supreme Court denied a request by Zagorski and other Tennessee death row inmates over the state’s mix of lethal drugs, which have led to some flawed executions in recent years.

Lethal injection is the preferred method of putting people to death in all U.S. states that have the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The last time Tennessee used its electric chair was 2007.

In a 1984 trial, prosecutors said Zagorski lured John Dotson and Jimmy Porter into a wooded area in Robertson County under the pretense of a drug deal, but once the men were in the woods, Zagorski shot them both, slit their throats and stole their cash, court records show.

Zagorski’s attorneys in a lawsuit filed in federal District Court on Friday argued that the electric chair, “while better than lethal injection ... is still utterly barbaric,” saying that it violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Despite the controversies over lethal injection, Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, told Reuters, “I don’t see a resurgence in use of the electric chair. I don’t see states going back to that.”

Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool

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