Two more executions set for Tennessee this year
The execution of Billy Ray Irick was the first in Tennessee in nearly a decade, and several more death row inmates are scheduled to die later this year.
In January, the Tennessee Supreme Court scheduled an Oct. 11 execution for Edmund George Zagorski, convicted in a double Robertson County killing, and a Dec. 11 death date for David Earl Miller, convicted in a South Knoxville killing.
Zagorski, 63, was convicted in 1984 of shooting John Dotson of Hickman County and Jimmy Porter of Dickson and then slitting their throats, after robbing them in April 1983.
Miller was found guilty in the killing of a woman found stabbed and bludgeoned in 1981 on the grounds of a South Knoxville home.
He has been on death row longer than any other inmate in Tennessee.
Both men have exhausted their formal appeals, but both will very likely pursue additional legal attempts to delay or vacate their executions. In fact, litigation continues among 32 inmates over the state's lethal injection method.
There are currently 60 people on Tennessee's death row. Ten of them were sentenced for crimes in East Tennessee. Before Irick, Tennessee had not executed an inmate since 2009.
Zagorski and Miller are among the inmates who argue the state's lethal injection protocol is flawed. Defense attorneys in other states also are challenging the use of the sedative midazolam in the execution process.
Irick also was a plaintiff, but the state Supreme Court declined this week to halt his execution while the inmates' challenge is pending.
A Davidson County chancellor ruled against the inmates in July.
Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle said the inmates did not do enough to show the state neglected to find alternative drugs, or that using the drugs will violate the constitution by torturing the condemned.
The inmates appealed, asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to delay Irick's execution in order for their appeal to proceed. The state's highest court declined, with a majority of justices stating the inmates' chance of winning on appeal was very low.
That likely means Zagorski and Miller also would not receive stays if this legal challenge is still pending at the time they are scheduled to die.
Robert Tines was the last person from East Tennessee to be executed before Irick. He died in the electric chair in 1960. There wasn't another execution in Tennessee for almost four decades.
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