Edmund Zagorski, who killed two men more than three decades ago, wanted to avoid the fate of Billy Ray Irick, another inmate whose death by lethal injection Zagorski regarded as torture.
Just before Edmund Zagorski was executed in Tennessee on Thursday night, he locked eyes with his attorney Kelley Henry and flashed a grin. She returned the expression. Zagorski, 63, urged those closest to him to keep a light mood as his death approached, The Tennessean reports. His last words summed up his attitude: “Let’s rock.” Zagorski met his fate 34 years after he was convicted of killing two men. Zagorski’s smile only revived stinging grief for family members of his victims, John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter.
After the state of Tennessee strapped Zagorski into the electric chair at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, 1,750 volts of electricity killed him. Dozens of death row visitors, clergy and capital punishment opponents kept a vigil outside. He wanted to avoid the fate of Billy Ray Irick, a Tennessee death row inmate who was executed by lethal injection in August. Henry, Zagorski’s attorney, argued in court that Irick was tortured to death for nearly 20 minutes. The families of Dotson and Porter have spent decades hearing the gruesome details of their loved ones’ deaths each time the Zagorski case returned to the headlines. Kim Dotson Rochelle was two weeks away from her 13th birthday when she buried her father. Every day since, she’s looked at her own reflection in the mirror and been reminded of the man she lost. Like most of her family, Rochelle waited for years to hear something, anything from her father’s killer. There was never any apology, never any reason why he killed the two men, she said. John Dale Dotson’s widow Marsha and his nephew Richard Hicks also said they’d never heard from the inmate during his 34 years of incarceration.