Governor Haslam says he won’t intervene in the case of Edmund Zagorski, who is set to be put to death next week.
Zagorski, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984, had requested clemency, asking the governor to commute his sentence to life without the possibility of parole – a lesser sentence that Zagorski’s jury did not have the option of sentencing him to at the time.
Zagorski is also among 33 inmates on Tennessee’s death row who are challenging the state’s planned use of a three-drug lethal injection protocol to carry out their death sentences.
“While Zagorski has exhibited good behavior during his incarceration, that does not undo the fact that he robbed and brutally murdered two men and attempted to kill a police officer while on the run,” Haslam said in-part.
Zagorski, who was convicted of the 1983 murders of two men during a bogus drug deal in Robertson County. He shot John Dotson and Jimmy Porter and then slit their throats.
He was later arrested in Ohio following a shootout with police, in which he shot a police officer five times and rammed a police car. A jury gave Zagorski two death penalties, finding that the murders took place during the commission of a robbery and that the murders involved “torture or depravity of mind.”
Before Zagorski’s trial, court records show he told his attorneys that he preferred the death penalty rather than life in prison, and Zagorski instructed his attorneys to not present any evidence during sentencing that might encourage a sentence of life rather than death.
The last inmate to be executed in Tennessee was Billy Ray Irick back August 9.
Read Haslam's full statement below:
“After careful consideration, I am declining to intervene in the case of Edmund Zagorski, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 by a Robertson County jury for the murders of John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter. Zagorski requests clemency based upon his behavior while incarcerated and juror affidavits obtained nearly 35 years after the trial stating that some jurors would have preferred to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which was not an option under Tennessee law at the time. While Zagorski has exhibited good behavior during his incarceration, that does not undo the fact that he robbed and brutally murdered two men and attempted to kill a police officer while on the run. Further, while juries today have the option of imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in capital cases, the jury in Zagorski’s case heard the evidence at trial and rendered a unanimous verdict in accordance with the law at the time and their duty as jurors. Ten courts, including the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, have reviewed and upheld the jury’s verdict and sentence, and the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that the addition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option does not affect previous verdicts.”