Two Jurors In Zagorski Case Argue For Life Without Parole Ahead Of Execution | Nashville Public Radio

Two Jurors In Zagorski Case Argue For Life Without Parole Ahead Of Execution

Oct 7, 2018

With days until his scheduled execution, two jurors who condemned Edmund Zagorski to death say the convicted murderer's life should be spared.

Michael Poole served on the jury in 1984, before life without parole became an option in Tennessee capital murder cases in 1995.

"We were instructed that if we were assured beyond any doubt that Mr. Zagorski had done this crime, that he should be given the death penalty because that's what the prosecution was actually seeking in this case," Poole told WPLN Friday.

Poole says he had no doubt that Zagorski committed a double murder in 1983, shooting and slitting the throats of a Hickman County logger and a bar owner from Dickson. The men expected to buy 100 pounds of marijuana.

Poole says the jury's concern was making sure Zagorski could never be released and potentially commit the same crime again. The small business owner from Springfield says he's not entirely opposed to the death penalty but says Zagorski doesn't have to be executed.

Juror Nancy Arnold shares the same feelings, 34 years later.

"I hate for him to have to lose his life over it. I don't think that's going to help anything," she told WPLN Sunday.

Arnold says she vividly recalls Zagorski's eyes during the trial and sentencing. They "were so penetrating," she says. And she was sure to look him in the eyes when the verdict was delivered.

But the graphic designer from Robertson County says she's tried to forget about the case, though she does feel like the jury would have supported midde ground rather than death.

"If there had been a choice of life without parole, I would have chosen that over what we did," she said.

No Intervention

Zagorski is set to be put to death by lethal injection on Thursday at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. He asked Governor Bill Haslam for clemency based on good behavior while in prison.

But on Friday, Haslam denied the request.

"While Zagorski has exhibited good behavior during his incarceration, that does not undo the fact that he robbed and brutally murdered two men and attempted to kill a police officer while on the run. Further, while juries today have the option of imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in capital cases, the jury in Zagorski’s case heard the evidence at trial and rendered a unanimous verdict in accordance with the law at the time and their duty as jurors."

Haslam also noted the verdict in Zagorski’s case has been upheld by 10 courts, including the Tennessee and U.S. Supreme Courts.

In August, Haslam also declined to intervene in the execution of Billy Ray Irick.

The Tennessee Supreme Court is expected to rule on an expedited case challenging the state's lethal injection protocol in the coming days, which could also have a bearing on Zagorski's fate. If not, his attorneys say they will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay of execution.