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Haslam grants death row inmate Zagorski 10-day reprieve from execution

Edmund Zagorski (Tennessee Department of Corrections)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has granted death row inmate Edmund Zagorski a 10-day reprieve from execution. Zagorski's execution was originally scheduled to be carried out late Thursday night.

"I take seriously the responsibility imposed upon the Tennessee Department of Correction and me by law, and given the federal court’s decision to honor Zagorski’s last-minute decision to choose electrocution as the method of execution, this brief reprieve will give all involved the time necessary to carry out the sentence in an orderly and careful manner,” Governor Haslam said.

The reprieve is effective until October 21.

Earlier Thursday, Judge Aleta Trauger of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted Zagorski's motion asking not to be executed by lethal injection.

A stay of execution was confirmed by a federal appeals court Wednesday. Split 2-1 Thursday, a federal court of appeals panel delayed his execution with a stay for the second time, citing ineffective counsel claims. A petition for further legal review is pending at the United States Supreme Court.

Zagorski opted for the electric chair instead of lethal injection for the execution. The state initially rejected his request to die in the electric chair, according to his attorney.

Zagorski’s request came after the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld that the state's current lethal injection protocol is constitutional.

The three-drug lethal injection protocol was adopted in January 2018 by the Tennessee Department of Correction as an alternative execution method to the single-drug protocol using pentobarbital. 33 death row inmates filed a constitutional challenge to the new protocol in February as TDOC eliminated the pentobarbital alternative. The three-drug protocol now stands as the only available lethal injection execution method in Tennessee.

Critics say the three-drug cocktail does not work properly, causing "torturous effects."

Zagorski was convicted of shooting and slitting the throats of John Dotson and Jimmy Porter, of Robertson County, during a marijuana deal in 1983. Governor Bill Haslam denied clemency for Zagorski on October 5.




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