Kenneth Biros

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has appealed a federal judge’s decision to delay the execution of convicted murderer Kenneth L. Biros.

Biros, formerly of Brookfield, was to be put to death by lethal injection Jan. 23 for murdering and dismembering Tami L. Engstrom 15 years ago.

Biros intervened in a federal suit that challenges the constitutionality of lethal injection. One of his attorneys, Timothy F. Sweeney of Cleveland, is arguing that Ohio’s process of lethal injection fails to prevent someone from feeling “the excruciatingly painful effects of death by suffocation and heart attack.”

The process “can, and will, in effect cause him to be tortured to death,” Sweeney said of Biros, who strangled Ms. Engstrom, left parts of her body in three counties and cut her up so completely that some parts of her never were found.

Sweeney also claims the people who administer lethal injection in Ohio are improperly trained, and use unreliable drugs and inappropriate equipment and methods.

The Attorney General’s office has argued that the evidence presented in the lawsuit has not shown there is any medical certainty Biros or anyone else will experience pain and suffering because of the failure of the numbing agent, sodium thiopental.

Biros, who is being held in the state prison in Youngstown, has pointed to the troubled execution of Joseph Clark in Florida in which he appeared to struggle after the drugs were injected, and took about 30 minutes to die.

Ohio Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael L. Collyer said some of the allegations of problems in the Clark case are not substantiated by official and witness accounts, and have little to do with Biros’ contentions about Ohio’s lethal injection protocol.

He also said the state should be allowed to carry out Biros’ sentence in a timely fashion, and to delay the sentence would harm Ms. Engstrom’s family.

Nevertheless, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory L. Frost in Columbus said Thursday there was enough evidence presented that the case should have a right to proceed to trial before Biros’ execution is carried out.

Collyer filed an appeal Friday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the court docketed the case the same day.

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