A double-murderer has become the first person executed by electric chair in the USA in half a decade, despite a last-minute legal bid to save his life.
Edmund Zagorski was put to death inside the chamber at the Riverbend Maximum Security prison in Tennessee shortly before 7.30pm local time.
Zagorski’s lawyers had requested a stay of execution but the Supreme Court rejected that 11 minutes before his execution began.
Reporters who witnessed the execution were not allowed to have phones with them. But Chris Conte, a journalist for local station Channel 5, tweeted from outside the jail about “what is going on inside … presuming nothing has gone wrong”.
“The extraction team takes one sponge from a container and places it on top of Edmund Zagorski’s head. The head piece is secured with two straps,” he wrote.
Tennessee has not executed anyone by electric chair in over six years. The man who made this chair, Fred Leuchter, has said in previous weeks he’s worried it won’t work. Leuchter actually lied to the state about having an engineering license
Before Zagorski was executed, he ate a last meal of pickled pig knuckles and pig tails. Ahead of the October 11 execution date that was cancelled, Zagorski had opted not to order a last meal.
At the time, other inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Institute who are friendly with him reportedly collected money to get him pizza.
“Should he change his mind and want to have dinner, his meal will be the same as the one provided to the other inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution,” the TDOC said when Zagorski chose not to select a last meal.
Death row inmates are given $20 for a meal of their choice prior to their execution.
Nationwide, only 14 other people have been put to death in the electric chair since 2000, the most recent being in Virginia in 2013.
In Tennessee, condemned inmates whose crimes occurred before 1999 can choose the electric chair — one of six states that allow such a choice.
Zagorski’s lawyers argued the inmate believed death by electrocution in the chair would be a quicker and less painful way to die than by an injection though they contend both methods are unconstitutional.
Tennessee’s electric chair was inspected on October 10 of this year and found to meet the criteria for an execution, state documents show.
The device was originally rebuilt in the late 1980s by a self-taught execution expert who worried the device would malfunction on Thursday. It’s only been used to execute one person before: Daryl Holton, in 2007.
Before Holton, the last person to die in Tennessee’s electric chair was William Tines in 1960.
Zagorski had been on death row for 34 years, the second-longest in Tennessee.
— with AP