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Board upholds death for Biros



Published: Thu, January 11, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.



The parole board's recommendation to the governor was unanimous.

By MICHELE C. HLADIK

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- "It's time" for Kenneth Biros to die for murdering and mutilating a Hubbard woman, according to the man who helped put Biros on Ohio's death row.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said: "It's time for justice to be upheld. This is not a question of innocence. It's a question of justice."

That was Watkins' reaction to news that the Ohio Parole Board recommended to Gov. Ted Strickland on Wednesday that Biros' conviction and death sentence should be upheld.

"The brutality and violence exhibited in the offense outweigh the mitigating factors surrounding [Biros'] life prior to the offense and his adjustment to incarceration," the parole board's recommendation read.

Biros was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1991 murder and dismemberment of 22-year-old Tami Engstrom.

The seven-member parole board met for a clemency hearing Jan. 4.

"[Biros'] conviction and death sentence have been upheld over 16 years of judicial review," the board recommendation read. "There is no manifest injustice or lack of fundamental fairness in regard to his trial and subsequent conviction and sentence."

Up to the governor

The matter now falls into the hands of Gov. Ted Strickland, who took office Monday.

"All I can say at this time is he'll review it," said Strickland's press secretary Keith Dailey.

Biros was scheduled to be executed Jan. 23 but a stay from a federal judge may delay the execution. The matter is being appealed by the Ohio attorney general's office.

Watkins and members of Engstrom's family remain confident Biros' death sentence will be carried out eventually.

Watkins said he believes the facts in the case are evident and show Biros is the "worst of the worst" offenders.

"I'm very happy with the recommendation," he said.

Watkins said the parole board's decisions have typically contained dissenting votes, but in Biros' case the decision was unanimous.

He said he isn't concerned with the possibility Strickland may want more time to review the case because of his newness to the governor's office and the weight of the decision.

"We believe the governor will take his time and give due consideration to the case on its merits," Watkins said.

Family's reaction

Engstrom's sister Debi Heiss said that the family will also understand if it takes a little while for Stickland's decision, but that they hope he will be able to review the case in time for the January execution.

Supporters of Biros' sentence said justice will be denied if he is not put to death.

Heiss said she and her mother, Mary Jane, and brother Tom plan to attend the execution.

"I want to see him take his last breath," Heiss said. "I will feel a new spirit over my body."

Heiss, who also attended the parole board hearing earlier this month, said the murder of her sister has taken a horrible emotional and economic toll on her family, especially Engstrom's son, who is now 17.

Biros' mother also attended the parole board hearing to ask for mercy for her son.

"I'm begging you to spare his life," JoAnn Biros said at the hearing.

Biros' attorney argued Biros had a loving family and was not a problem inmate.

"We are here asking for mercy," Biros' attorney John Parker said.




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