A Tennessee death row inmate requested to be executed by the electric chair to avoid the “unspeakable” torture of a lethal injection death, his lawyer said Monday.
Edmund Zagorski made the request about two hours before the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol is constitutional. A lawyer for Zagorski said the inmate opted for the electric chair because it’s “the lesser of two evils.” Zagorski is scheduled to be executed Thursday.
“Faced with the choice of two unconstitutional methods of execution, Mr. Zagorski has indicated that if his execution is to move forward, he believes that the electric chair is the lesser of two evils,” attorney Kelley Henry said.
Some doctors have said inmates being executed by lethal injection will feel like they are simultaneously drowning and burning alive, the Tennessean reported.
“Ten to 18 minutes of drowning, suffocation and chemical burning is unspeakable,” Henry said, adding the choice isn’t to delay the execution.
“It was certainly a difficult decision,” Henry said. “It’s impossible to know which is better of the two unconstitutional choices.”
Tennessee inmates prior to 1999 were allowed to choose to die either by lethal injection or the electric chair. The last death row inmate to die by electrocution was in 2007.
Zagorski joins 31 death row inmates in Tennessee suing the state over its three-drug method of execution, claiming it violates the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“I do not want to be subjected to the torture of the current lethal injection method,” Zagorski stated in his affidavit.
Zagorski was convicted in 1984 after he lured two men into the woods and shot and slit their throats, the Tennessean reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.