Biros set to die today

By Marc Kovac

The execution is scheduled for 10 a.m.

LUCASVILLE — Kenneth Biros slept, took communion — three wafers — and was scheduled to visit with family members Monday at the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

“He’s been relaxed, lying in the bed, very quiet,” Julie Walburn, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, told reporters during a late afternoon media briefing. “His mood has been very calm.”

The Trumbull County murderer is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at the Lucasville prison for the 1991 murder of Tami Engstrom, a 22-year-old woman he offered to drive home from a Masury bar. The victim was dismembered, with parts of her body scattered in two Pennsylvania counties.

Biros made the trip from Death Row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown on Monday morning. He spent much of the day in the small cell 17 steps away from the death chamber, where, barring court intervention, he faces a 10 a.m. execution time.

Monday night, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati refused to delay the execution.

Biros was allowed to take into the cell state-issued clothes, eyeglasses and towels, a CD player with headphones and seven CDs, various toiletries, several religious books, a rosary and prayer rope, a gold chain with a cross, family photos and writing materials.

Throughout the day, he slept and laid on a bed with his eyes closed. He was subjected to several health and mental health checks, plus a vein assessment. Walburn said the latter identified “palpable” veins in Biros’ left arm and “accessible” veins in his right — information that will be used by execution members as they attempt to insert the shunts that will accommodate the lethal injection.

Early in the afternoon, Biros talked to one of his sisters on the phone and attempted, unsuccessfully, to contact his attorneys. He had contact visits with spiritual advisers after 3 p.m. and was scheduled for visits with family members from 4:30 to 7:30 — sessions in which the inmate and visitors could hug and hold hands.

Just after 3 p.m., he was given a snack that included four slices of bread, 4 ounces of peanut butter, six containers of grape jelly, cherry-flavored drink, blueberry muffins and apples. He requested a special meal, to be served later in the evening, that included pizza with extra cheese, mushrooms and onions; onion rings; fried mushrooms; Doritos; French onion dip; blueberry ice cream; cherry pie; Dr Pepper and ketchup.

Biros listed more than a dozen potential visitors Monday evening, including his mother, two sisters and brother, a brother-in-law, several friends and spiritual advisers.

One of his attorneys, John Parker, and two spiritual advisers, Eric Weinberg and Bradley Butters, were scheduled to witness Biros’ execution today. Victims witnesses include Engstrom’s mother, Mary Jane Heiss; sister, Debi Heiss; and brother, Tom Heiss. Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere plans to witness, as well.

The execution has generated increased media interest, as the state uses a new one-drug execution protocol with a backup plan in case suitable veins are not accessible to carry the lethal injection intravenously.

Walburn said 21 people representing 13 media outlets had received credentials for the execution. Six reporters will witness the execution.

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