Zagorski's attorney: State won't respond to execution telephone access order

Posted at 6:46 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 02:23:37-04

While several legal filings and appeals continue to swirl around the impending execution of Edmund Zagorski, one particular question remains unanswered: will there be a telephone for Zagorski's attorney to use before and during Zagorski's electric chair execution?

The answer to that question could determine whether Zagorski's execution proceeds as scheduled on Thursday; this week, federal district judge Aleta Trauger ordered that Zagorski's execution could not continue unless "immediate access" to a phone was granted to Zagorski's attorney, Kelley Henry.

The phone would be used to contact courts or other officials, if necessary.  Other official witnesses, including media witnesses and members of the victims' families, are not allowed phone access.

By Wednesday evening, with less than 24 hours to go before Zagorski's scheduled execution in the electric chair, Henry said the state had not responded about whether they would make a phone available to her for the execution, despite sending multiple emails and making multiple phone calls to attorneys for the state.

Wednesday, Henry filed a motion with Judge Trauger, asking her to force the state to answer whether a phone will be available for the execution. By 10:30p.m. Wednesday, the judge responded. He agreed with Henry and ordered the state and TDOC to say how they plan to comply with the telephone request. The state has until 11:00a.m. Thursday to respond. If they don't, Judge Trauger said the execution cannot move forward. 

Neither TDOC nor the state Attorney General's office had immediately responded to similar questions asked by NewsChannel 5.

Late Wednesday, in a separate legal filing, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a stay of execution for Zagorski.  Zagorski's attorneys had asked for a stay so the court could take up the legal questions of whether the electric chair was constitutional, and whether the choice between lethal injection and the electric chair was constitutional.  The court rejected those arguments, but that decision will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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 before robbing them and stealing their truck.