Supreme Court Blocks Execution Of Ohio Inmate Who Scattered Victim's Remains

Tuesday, March 20th 2007, 4:01 pm
By: News On 6

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the execution of a man who killed a woman and scattered her remains across two states, agreeing with other courts that said he can continue arguing that Ohio's method of lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Kenneth Biros had waited for the decision hours past his 10 a.m. scheduled execution time at Ohio's death house.

Prisons director Terry Collins said the execution would not happen Tuesday. The execution team had been waiting while the court debated, and was ready to administer the lethal injection if the court granted the state's request to proceed with the execution.

The justices' one-sentence decision agreed with two lower courts that had delayed the execution, including the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused earlier Tuesday to allow a hearing before the full court to consider a state appeal.

Biros, 48, acknowledged that he killed Tami Engstrom, 22, in 1991, but he said he did it during a drunken rage.

A panel of judges on the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati on Monday upheld a lower court's order blocking the execution, saying Biros should be able to continue appealing a lawsuit with other inmates arguing cruel and unusual punishment.

Biros' attorney, Timothy Sweeney, had said that if the Supreme Court allowed the execution, Biros still had an appeal before the 6th Circuit that claims he was not convicted of an offense that merits the death penalty.

Biros and Engstrom met after work in 1991 at a tavern in Masury in northeast Ohio. Police believed she fled his advances and fell or was struck or was strangled when Biros tried to quiet her.

A search based on Biros' information led to body parts near Masury and in adjacent areas in northwest Pennsylvania. Her head, right breast and right leg had been severed, intestines were found in a swampy area in Ohio, a leg was broken over a railroad track, the torso was found in a rural area of Pennsylvania and part of a liver was found in Biros' car.