The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 3, 2009

UPDATE: Attorney General dismisses Biros’ latest arguments

The new single-drug cocktail the state will use to execute convicted murderer Kenneth Biros falls into compliance with the state’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to a filing from the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

The procedure was unveiled on Monday, but over the weekend, Biros attorney Tim Sweeney argued that the new lethal injection amounts to “human experimentation, pure and simple,” and asked a federal judge to intervene.

The attorney general’s filing answered that argument and called for Biros to be executed as scheduled on Dec. 8.

Biros, 51, was convicted of beating, killing and dismembering 22-year-old Tami Engstrom in 1991 after giving her a ride home from a bar in Brookfield. He spread her body parts throughout northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecutor, said the crime was brutal enough to make Biros “the poster child for the death penalty.”

In previous filings Biros’ lawyers have alleged that lethal injection violated the constitutional ban on cruel an unusual punishment. The three-drug cocktail that’s in use throughout most of the country has been attacked on that grounds and previous stays have been ordered as higher courts consider the question.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Biros’ execution, but the the botched execution of Rommell Broom, a convicted rapist and murderer, in Ohio in September raised new questions about the procedure.

State prison staff tried unsuccessfully and repeatedly to find a vein that could be used to administer the lethal three-drug cocktail to Broom.

Because of the failed Broom execution, a district judge in Cincinnati ordered a stay of execution on Biros, but after the switch to a single-drug cocktail was announced, that stay was lifted.

Since Ohio started using lethal injection, 32 men have been put to death using the procedure, and Biros will be the first to be executed using the single-drug cocktail.

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