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Biros’ stay of execution angers victim’s brother

Published: Wed, October 21, 2009 @ 12:06 a.m.

It’s the second time in 19 months that the execution has been delayed.


GIRARD — Tom Heiss, brother of a Masury woman murdered in 1991 by Kenneth Biros, says his family finds it unbelievable that a judge is so concerned that Biros might endure a little suffering during his execution.

“He [Biros] is worried about a pinch in his arms, and he stabbed and cut parts of my sister off 91 times,” Heiss, of Girard, said Tuesday.

“My sister did not have the opportunity to say ‘stop.’ This [Biros’ execution by lethal injection] is cruel? What he did — was that humane? He deserves whatever he has coming to him. If it takes 91 times to find a vein, then take 91 times. If they can’t find a vein, then cut his head off.”

The coroner who performed the autopsy on Engstrom’s body said she had suffered 91 injuries before her death, all of them part of a “severe beating.”

On Monday, Judge Gregory Frost in Cincinnati indefinitely delayed the execution of Biros, 51, until the judge is satisfied that the state’s method of execution, legal injection, will work correctly.

Biros, formerly of Brookfield, was scheduled to die Dec. 8, but the botched execution of Romell Broom in September has led to a new moratorium on executions. So far, Judge Frost has put an indefinite hold on two executions, including that of Broom; and Gov. Ted Strickland has halted two other executions.

The delays occurred after prison officials in Lucasville tried unsuccessfully for two hours to insert a needle into Broom’s arm and administer the lethal drugs.

Biros’ execution was scheduled and delayed once before — in March 2007 — when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped his execution as part of a federal case challenging Ohio’s lethal-injection protocol.

Heiss said he hopes to find a way for him, his sister, Debi Heiss, and his mother, MaryJane Heiss, to talk to Strickland when he comes to the Mahoning Valley in early November so that they can make their feelings known.

“This is ridiculous,” Tom Heiss said. “It’s almost 20 years now, and every time we get to this point, it gets thrown back in our face, and it hurts, man.”

“Our family is the one going through the life sentence. There are a lot of people in this community who are [angry],” he said, noting that he received numerous phone calls Monday night when the news of the delay was announced.

The state is considering ways to adjust its death-chamber procedure. A spokeswoman for the governor said a review of execution procedures continued.

A spokeswoman for Richard Cordray, the attorney general, said the state was reviewing its legal options. The state had expected to have new procedures in place in time to execute Biros on Dec. 8.

Among the changes the state is considering is injecting lethal drugs into inmates’ bone marrow or muscles as an alternative to — or a backup for — the traditional intravenous execution procedure. Broom complained in an affidavit after the execution attempt that execution staff painfully hit muscle and bone at times during up to 18 attempts to reach a vein.

Broom was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a 14-year-old girl in 1984.

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