Tennessee inmate Edmund Zagorski executed by electric chair

FILE - This undated file photo released by the Tennessee Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Edmund Zagorski in Tennessee. Attorneys for Zagorski were trying to spare him from lethal injection and they succeeded, but not the way they hoped. Instead of getting the needle, Zagorski is scheduled to die in the electric chair on Nov. 1, 2018. (Tennessee Department of Corrections via AP, File)

Tennessee death row inmate and convicted double-murderer Edmund Zagorski has been executed.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections announced the news in a statement Thursday evening:

"The death sentence of Edmund Zagorski was executed by means of electrocution on November 1, 2018 in accordance with the laws of the state of Tennessee. The sentence was carried out at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. Zagorski was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m."

Zagorski's final words were "Let's rock," according to reporters who witnessed the execution.

In a news conference afterward, eyewitnesses say he either grimaced or grinned as a sponge was put over his head. The witness says the inmate raised up in his chair when each jolt of electricity went through him.

Witnesses say Zagorski was shocked twice before being pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. local time.

Earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to halt Zagorski's execution.

The court said in a statement Thursday evening that it would not block the state's plans to put to death the 63-year-old inmate at a Nashville prison.

Zagorski had asked the court take up his claim that it's unconstitutional to force him to choose between the electric chair and lethal injection. His attorney said Zagorski chose the chair thinking it would be quicker and less painful, but he maintains both methods are unconstitutional

The court statement says Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the dissenting voice, noting Zagorski's decision to opt for the electric chair.

Says Sotomayor: "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. 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."

In opting for the electric chair over a lethal injection as Tennessee allowed him, Zagorski had argued it would be a quicker and less painful way to die. He became only the second person to die in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960.

Nationwide, only 14 other people have been put to death in the electric chair since 2000, including a Virginia inmate in 2013.

Prosecutors say Zagorski shot John Dotson and Jimmy Porter and slit their throats in April 1983 after robbing them when they sought to buy marijuana from him.

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