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March 21, 2007

Reactions to another Ohio execution delay

This local news article provides some background on and reactions to Ohio's inability to proceed yesterday with the scheduled execution of Kenneth Biros because of on-going lethal injection litigation (background here and here).  Here are snippets:

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins explained that Biros has requested that a full panel of federal appellate judges hear his claim to rejoin the lethal injection lawsuit. He recently was dismissed from the action on the grounds that his claim was not filed in a timely manner....  "We're disappointed and angry this execution didn't go forward. The claims on the part of Biros are completely frivolous and unreasonable," Watkins said.

The prosecutor said he will now have to wait until the 6th Circuit case and any appeals from that play out before seeking a new execution date for Biros.  "This has been frustrating and placed a lot of stress on a lot of people," Watkins said. 

Watkins still believes justice will be served.  "I'm confident we'll see him executed," Watkins said.  "The victims deserve no less and the public deserves to have laws enforced in a timely fashion. The number of appeals is burdensome.  It's been 16 years."

Also hoping for justice is [murder victim Tami] Engstrom's mother, Mary Jane Heiss, whose shoulders slumped at the weight of her disappointment.  "It hurts me to see my family, especially my kids, in so much pain. I live for them, but I hate to see them suffer," she said, vowing to keep fighting to see that Biros pays for Tami's death.

The irony of Biros' claim is cruel punishment was nearly unconscionable to Watkins. "You want to see cruel punishment?  Look what he did to Tami.  That is cruel and unusual punishment.  The Ohio Supreme Court already ruled that lethal injection can be used.  We used to have the electric chair and hangings.  There is no painless way to die."...

This AP story provides additional details on some of Biros' other still-pending legal claims and also has more reactions to yesterday's developments:

Engstrom's sister, Debi Heiss, 41, of Hubbard, told The Herald in Sharon, Pa., that members of her family, who spent most of Tuesday waiting for the execution in a hotel near the prison, were furious over the delay.  "We just want it to end," she said.  "We want to get on with our lives, we want to close the chapter."

Attorney General Marc Dann said he would renew his efforts to have the sentence carried out.  "Legal issues aside, I want to express my sympathy and compassion for the family and friends of Tami Engstrom who have been living with the pain of their tragic loss for the past 16 years," Dann said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Biros waited for the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ohio's death house. When told of the ruling, Biros' mother clasped his hands through the bars of his cell and he thanked God.... Biros also was with a priest when [his attorney] gave them word of the ruling, and two sisters, a brother and a family friend also were at the prison, the attorney said.  "There was a lot of crying, a lot of hugging," he said.

March 21, 2007 at 06:49 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The death penalty cannot be fairly administered without years of delay. Yet, the delay prevents victims' families from completing the grieving process and moving on with their lives. It seems to me that the death penalty is the problem and that the most compassionate thing for victims' families would be abolition. If Tami Engstrom's killer would have been given life without parole 16 years ago, there would not be any of this pain. Her family would be confident the perpetrator was being punished and that would be the end of it.

Posted by: | Mar 21, 2007 9:47:53 AM

And would you be comfortable informing Tami's family, or any other familes of violent crime victims, of your thoughts? I'm sure they'd love to know how you think they would (should?) feel.

Posted by: chris | Mar 21, 2007 10:03:27 AM

I'd have no problem telling crime victims that. Lock the guy up and throw away the key. Be done with it. As for Tami's family, it is too late there. Things aren't going to be easy for them no matter what. If the guy gets life without parole now, I'm sure it will feel to them like he has gotten away with something.

Posted by: | Mar 21, 2007 10:17:12 AM

Since when does this “grieving process” (which I never heard of until I watched a movie about a shrink) drive our legal system.

Posted by: S.couts | Mar 21, 2007 10:43:51 AM

"The death penalty cannot be fairly administered without years of delay."

How many years? In a case such as Biros, with no question of identity of the perpetrator, I see no reason why all the review needed can't be done in five years. One direct appeal and one state habeas, conducted concurrently, is all that is needed for penalty-phase claims of a person clearly guilty of a horrible murder.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Mar 21, 2007 10:58:51 AM

I think that if they junked a lot of the "constitutional" holdings bestowing rights on murderers in the penalty phase, the five year time limit would be a lot easier to meet.

Biros time will come--soon enough. The lethal injection thing will be sorted, and this animal will be put down.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 21, 2007 11:26:23 AM

Where did 5 years come from?

"Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 9.2 years "

An inspiration, perhaps?

Posted by: George | Mar 21, 2007 4:53:16 PM

So, it make sense. Federalist wants people to be executed before they are exonerated.

I assume that Federalist also wants strict statutes of limitations that prohibit courts from even hearing cases where the alledged crime took place over 5 years ago. If not, he just wants criminla proceedings to drag on forever.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 22, 2007 12:37:11 PM

Well, S.cotus, you know what happens when one assumes . . . . although you do a pretty good job without assuming.

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Posted by: DFDF | Jul 29, 2007 1:21:08 AM

i am Tami's best friend. I still am and always will be... After that mother fucker, (and i mean he fucked his mother!), slipped thru the cracks of being fried and pin pricked, has the balls to appeal anything he has done is beyond my beleif. I no longer give a fuck! He murdered and mutilated Tami and he won't kill me. He will only burn in fucking hell and i relish in the thought of his cries and screams while burning in hell with HIS maker (satan). kENNETH BIROS and his family are satanists! They all murdered her. I KNOW! I lived this fucking nightmare and the truth of the crimes and murder! Fuck this judicial system! We all work to take care of these mother fucking murderers....and to those who appeal....FUCK YOURSELF! AND THEN PUT YOUR LOVED ONE IN A ROOM WITH KEN BIROS!...WITH A FUCKING KNIFE AND A TIMER....FUCK YOU ALL....FUCK YOURSELF,....FUCK YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS AND WIFES AND LOVED ONES....nOW, defend Biros. Then, when you are done defending these murdering, sick, fucks........GO FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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