Three hours before Edmund Zagorski was scheduled to die, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam delayed his execution so the state could prepare to use the electric chair to kill him, reports The Tennessean. Haslam said a short delay would give the state time to accommodate Zagorski’s preference for the electric chair over a controversial lethal injection cocktail. Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated two other legal hurdles that might have derailed the execution, making it more likely to move forward soon. Haslam’s reprieve was for 10 days, but it could take longer for a new execution date to be set by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down two stays Thursday, essentially ending his remaining legal options to avoid execution. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had planned to weigh whether Zagorski may pursue claims his trial attorneys made errors in representing him.
A majority of justices rejected a request from Zagorski’s attorneys for another stay so the high court could review a constitutional challenge to Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented, saying they would have reviewed the lethal injection protocol. “Capital prisoners are not entitled to pleasant deaths under the Eighth Amendment, but they are entitled to humane deaths,” Sotomayor wrote. “The longer we stand silent amid growing evidence of inhumanity in execution methods like Tennessee’s, the longer we extend our own complicity in state-sponsored brutality.” Zagorski sued to force the state to use the electric chair for his execution, saying the pain of electrocution would be preferable to the controversial lethal injection. The state initially refused Zagorski’s request to be executed by the electric chair, saying he was too late and hadn’t given two weeks’ notice.