Execution Stayed for Tennessee Inmate Who Requested Electric Chair Over Lethal Injection

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By David K. Li

The state of Tennessee denied a condemned man's desire to die in the electric chair, claiming he waited too long to make his macabre selection — but an appeals court late Wednesday stayed his execution on an appeal that argued ineffective counsel.

Double-murderer Edmund George Zagorski, 63, had been scheduled to die Thursday night at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, in an execution he wanted to happen by electrocution.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Wednesday night granted a stay of execution sought by his attorneys, who argued that he had inadequate assistance of counsel during his original trial.

It was a split decision, with two judges acknowledging Zagorski "faces an uphill battle," but ruling that "at a minimum, due process requires that Zagorski be afforded an opportunity to present his appeal to us," and another judge dissenting.

Lethal injection is the primary form of execution in the Volunteer State, but inmates whose offenses happened before January 1999 may opt for the electric chair. Zagorski killed two 35-year-old men in a drug deal gone bad in 1983.

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