CHICAGO — A Tennessee man convicted of a double murder was put to death Thursday in the electric chair, after insisting on the rarely used method rather than lethal injection.
Edmund Zagorski, 63, was the first US convict in five years to be put to death by electrocution.
Zagorski was sentenced to death for the 1983 murders of two men he lured into a wooded area with a promise to sell them marijuana. The victims’ bodies were found two weeks later, shot and their throats slit.
An 11th-hour appeal to the US Supreme Court was denied.
Only nine US states still use the electric chair as a form of capital punishment. It was set to be Tennessee’s only electric chair execution since 2007.
The southern state’s Department of Correction said the execution was carried out “in accordance with the laws” of Tennessee. Zagorski was pronounced dead at 7:26 pm (0026 GMT Friday).
In Tennessee, people condemned to death before 1999 have the right to choose between the two methods of capital punishment.
Officials initially had intended to perform a lethal injection, which has become more common, but Zagorski challenged the state’s use of a three-drug cocktail that includes the controversial sedative midazolam.
When the state supreme court rejected the challenge, he asked to be put to death by electric chair.
Midazolam has been the focus of numerous legal challenges in death penalty cases as lawyers have argued it cannot adequately prevent suffering during executions.
The eighth amendment to the US Constitution provides protections against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Zagorski’s lawyer Kelley Henry said the state had forced him to “choose between two absolutely barbaric methods of death.”
“The state’s three-drug protocol is certain torture,” she charged.