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Tennessee Inmate's Says 'Let's Rock' Before Electric Chair Execution

Edmund Zagorski, who murdered two people in a botched drug deal decades ago, was put to death after enjoying a last meal of pig knuckles and tails.

By Eric Shorey

A convicted killer who, in a rare move, was put to death by electric chair instead of lethal injection uttered "let's rock" as his final words before the switch was flipped in Tennessee.

Edmund Zagorski, a 63-year-old man convicted of murdering two during a botched drug deal decades ago, was the first man executed by electric chair since 2007, according to The Associated Press.

Zagorski shot and then slit the throats of John Dotson and Jimmy Porter in 1983 after robbing the two men who had approached him to buy marijuana. 

Zagorski was officially pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. on Nov. 1 at a Nashville maximum-security prison, shortly after uttering his Lynchian final statement.

A reporter who witnessed the execution noted that Zagroski had smiled while being strapped into the chair, before his face was covered. He was wearing a pair of white prison pants and a yellow shirt and held up his hand to signify his readiness, according to CNN affiliate WTVF. His fists clenched as the electrical current was activated and he did not move at all after. 

Zagorski's final meal was pickled pig knuckles and tails.

Zagorski’s attorney, Kelly Henry, was seen nodding and giving support to her client.

“I told him when I put my hand over my heart, that was me holding him in my heart," Henry said, according to The Associated Press.

Henry also added that Zagorski told her the last thing he wanted to see was her smiling face, so she made an attempt to show joy during the proceeding.

Zagorski had himself opted for the electric chair over lethal injection, believing it would be a more painless way to be killed. He is only the second person to be put to death by electric chair in the state since 1960. Fourteen other people have been executed via the electric chair since 2000.

The Supreme Court denied a request for a stay from Zagorski on Nov. 1. Zagorski's lawyers had been attempting to argue that to force Zagorski to choose the method of his own demise was unconstitutional. Zagorski's execution had been scheduled three weeks earlier but was delayed when the inmate requested death by electric chair.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered a dissenting voice against in the Supreme Court's decision, noting the idiosyncrasies of Tennessee's laws, which allow inmates convicted of crimes before 1999 to choose the machinations of their own death.

“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. “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.”

Jurors on Zagorski's case pleaded with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to prevent the execution, but Haslam chose not to intervene. Life without parole had not been an option for the jurors at the time of the trial.

The only other person this executed in the same specific electric chair was convicted child killer Daryl Holton in 2007. The chair had been inspected prior to Zagorski's execution so as to make sure it would not malfunction.

Protestors demonstrated outside of the maximum security prison where the execution took place. Activists were seen holding a banner that read, “A Free Tennessee is Execution-Free.”

Zagorski had been on death row for 35 years. 

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

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