Judge orders Zagorski's attorney must have phone access before execution can proceed

Posted at 7:10 PM, Oct 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-29 21:14:02-04

A federal judge has ruled that the electric chair execution of death row inmate Edmund Zagorski cannot proceed unless his attorney can get access to a phone before and during the execution.

The order, from federal middle Tennessee district judge Aleta Trauger, said the Tennessee Department of Correction must provide Zagorski’s Attorney Kelley Henry with “immediate access” to a telephone to communicate with courts or other officials. Other witnesses, including seven media witnesses, are barred from bringing in phones.

In issuing the order, Judge Trauger said Zagorski’s execution is expected to continue forward on November 1 after TDOC installs the phone, saying “the phone installation will not prevent the state from carrying out the plaintiff’s sentence as scheduled.”

Neysa Taylor, a spokesperson for TDOC said state officials are reviewing the order to determine what next steps to take.

Zagorski’s attorney also argued that forcing Zagorski to choose between electrocution and lethal injection was unconstitutional, along with the electrocution method itself. Judge Trauger rejected those claims Monday.

Zagorski is scheduled to be put to death by the electric chair shortly after 7pm Thursday, in accordance with his wishes. The electric chair has been used only two other times in the last 60 years in Tennessee to put a condemned inmate to death, one in 1960 and the other in 2007.

Zagorski was convicted of a 1983 double murder of John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter after setting up a bogus drug deal.  Zagorski was said to have shot both men and then slit their throats.