Kennth Biros’ execution is back on the calendar
The state of Ohio may be the closest it has come to providing justice for Tami Engstrom since March 2007, but there remains the unsettling possibility that federal courts could intervene in providing murderer Kenneth Biros with another last minute stay of execution.
Biros has for too long avoided the death penalty that was handed down by a Trumbull County Common Pleas judge Oct. 29, 1991, for the brutal murder and post-mortem dismemberment of Engstrom eight months earlier. Biros’ arrest was swift, his trial and conviction were timely, but the execution of that sentence has dragged on for more than 18 years.
Rejected by high courts
During that time, Biros has won rulings in lower courts, including one in March 2007 that delayed the execution after he had eaten his requested meal and had what was supposed to be his last visit with family members. But ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court of Appeals have found no merit in arguments made on his behalf, and the Supreme Court of the United States twice denied certiorari.
Biros is scheduled to die by lethal injection Dec. 8. Ironically, Biros has been arguing of late that he is at risk of dying in a cruel and unusual manner if the state were allowed to kill him with the three-drug cocktail that has been used since executions were resumed in Ohio in l999. A man so craven as to stab, beat, sexually mutilate and murder a woman he had volunteered to see home safely from a Brookfield tavern should at least avoid claiming that his death by lethal injection might be so cruel as to violate the Constitution.
And yet, his execution had been delayed most recently on just that claim. Now Ohio has responded by adopting a new single-injection protocol that, the court of appeals ruled, made his claim moot.
A need for closure
If Biros had an ounce of decency left, he would order his lawyers to cease their appeals on his behalf. He knows that Engstrom’s family considers his execution a matter of closure. He took away a daughter, sister and mother when she was just 22. Biros, now 51, should consider the years he’s had on earth a bonus far beyond what he should have gotten.
Unfortunately, it’s possible that new appeals will be filed based on Ohio’s intention to use a single massive dose of barbiturates, rather than a combination of a sedative, a muscle relaxant and an agent that stops the heart.
No other state has used the single drug method, which is compared to that used to euthanize a pet. And while it’s unseemly to discuss taking a man’s life in the same way a dog’s life is ended, anyone who has made that last trip to a veterinarian with an ailing pet knows that the manner of death is far more peaceful than any that Kenneth Biros has earned.