Ohio Inmate Executed With New, Single-Drug Lethal Injection Method

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Lucasville, OH—A new method of lethal injection was used in the execution of an Ohio inmate on Tuesday, marking the first time this single-drug method has been employed in the United States.

Kenneth Biros, 51, had been convicted of killing and dismembering a 22-year-old woman in 1991 in what was described as a “particularly heinous” crime. After meeting Tami Engstrom in a bar and then driving her home, Biros robbed and attempted to rape her before murdering her, dismembering her, and spreading her body parts across two states. Biros said that he had acted in a fit of drunken rage.

The new method of execution consists of one injection of sodium thiopental, which had previously been used as the first drug in the three-drug method of execution. It has been successfully used to euthanize animals, but some opponents of capital punishment argue that the sodium thiopental is not long-lasting enough, and that it may wear off and leave the inmate vulnerable to experiencing pain as the other medications take effect.

The execution of Biros is the first one to take place in Ohio since September, when a botched execution attempt on another prisoner, Romell Broom, led the state’s governor and the federal courts to issue a moratorium on capital punishment. Authorities in this case attempted for hours to find a vein that would allow them to administer the lethal injection. Governor Ted Strickland then declared that two other men’s executions would also be delayed until Spring 2010. Broom’s execution has not yet been rescheduled.

Biros, who had originally been slated for execution in 2007, had been involved in a lawsuit challenging the old three-drug method. He received a stay of execution as a result of the litigation. His attorney had also called the one-drug method, in this instance, unconstitutional. Lawyer Timothy Sweeney wrote in an appeal that it was “human experimentation, pure and simple.”

An appeal for a second stay was denied by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that since the one-drug method was being implemented as the new protocol, Biros’s argument regarding the three-drug injection was not applicable.

Biros’s execution began at approximately 11:00 am on Tuesday. He died about ten minutes after the injection, but was not officially pronounced dead until 11:47am. According to a spokesperson for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Biros’s last words were: “Sorry from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank all of my family and friends for my prayers and who supported and believed in me. My father, now I’m being paroled to heaven. I will now spend all of my holidays with my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Peace be with you all. Amen.”

 

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