A death row inmate’s final words were ‘let’s rock’ moments before he was executed by electric chair in Tennessee in the US.
Edmund Zagorkski, 63, was pronounced dead at 7.26pm local time on Thursday at a Nashville maximum-security prison, officials said.
Asked if he had any last words in the death chamber, the inmate said, “let’s rock” shortly before the execution was carried out.
Zagorksi, convicted of robbing and murdering two men in 1983, was the first man to be executed by electric chair in Tennessee since 2007.
Before the execution, he reportedly alternated between grimacing and smiling as he lay strapped down and that a sponge was placed on his head and then a shroud over his face.
In opting for the electric chair over a lethal injection as Tennessee allowed him, Zagorski had argued it would be a quicker and less painful way to die.
He became only the second person to die in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960. Nationwide, only 14 other people have been put to death in the electric chair since 2000, including a Virginia inmate in 2013.
The execution was carried out shortly after the US Supreme Court on Thursday evening denied the inmate’s request for a stay.
Zagorski’s lawyer had argued that it was unconstitutional to force him to choose between the electric chair and lethal injection.
The state came close to administering a chemical injection to the 63-year-old inmate three weeks ago, a plan halted by Tennessee’s governor when Zagorski exercised his right to request the electric chair.
The Supreme Court’s statement said Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the dissenting voice, noting Zagorski’s decision to opt for the electric chair.
“He did so not because he thought that it was a humane way to die, but because he thought that the three-drug cocktail that Tennessee had planned to use was even worse,” Ms Sotomayor said in the statement.
“Given what most people think of the electric chair, it’s hard to imagine a more striking testament – from a person with more at stake – to the legitimate fears raised by the lethal-injection drugs that Tennessee uses.”
Zagorski was convicted of the April 1983 killings of two men during a drug deal. Prosecutors said Zagorski shot John Dotson and Jimmy Porter and then slit their throats after robbing the two men after they came to him to buy marijuana.
In Tennessee, condemned inmates whose crimes occurred before 1999 can choose the electric chair – one of six states that allow such a choice.
The US Supreme Court has never ruled on whether use of the electric chair violates the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but it came close about 20 years ago after a series of botched electrocutions in Florida.