December 2009 Executions

Four killers were executed in December 2009. They had murdered at least 8 people.

One killer was given a stay in December 2009. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2009 Tennessee Bobbie Bell, 12
James E. Moore
Charles House
Cecil Johnson executed
On July 5, 1980, Bob Bell’s Market on 12th Avenue South in Nashville, Tennessee was robbed by an armed gunman around 9:45 pm. In the store at the time of the robbery were Bob Bell, Jr., his son Bobbie, and Louis Smith, an acquaintance of Bob’s. Bobbie Bell was helping at the cash register and Smith was working at the store repairing a boat motor for Bob Bell. Cecil Johnson pointed a gun at Bell and ordered him and Smith behind the register where Bobbie Bell stood. While Johnson and his captives were behind the counter, a woman and two children entered the market. Johnson concealed his gun and told his captives to act naturally and to wait on the customers. As soon as the customers left, Johnson ordered Bobbie Bell to fill a bag with money from the cash register; Bobbie obeyed. Johnson then searched Smith and Bell, taking Smith’s billfold. At that moment, Charles House stepped into the market, and was ordered out by Johnson; House obeyed. Almost immediately thereafter, Johnson began shooting his captives. Bobbie Bell was shot first and killed. Smith threw himself on top of Bobbie to protect him from further harm, and was himself shot in the throat and hand. Johnson then walked toward Bob Bell, who was on the floor behind the counter, pointed the gun at Bell’s head and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, Bell threw up his hands and the bullet hit him in the wrist, breaking it. Johnson ran from the market. Bell got a shotgun from under the store counter, ready to chase Johnson, then heard two gunshots outside the market. He looked toward the front of the store and saw Johnson standing beside an automobile parked at the entrance. Bell chased after Johnson. As he passed the automobile, he saw that a cab driver and his passenger had been shot. The passenger was later identified as Charles House, the customer who had entered the market only moments before Johnson began shooting his captives and who was acquainted with Johnson. Both the cab driver, James E. Moore, and Charles House died from a gunshot wound. Information Bell gave to police officers immediately after the robbery led to Johnson’s arrest on July 6, 1980. At trial, both Bell and Louis Smith identified Johnson as the perpetrator of the crimes. In addition, Debra Smith, the customer who entered the market during the commission of the robbery, identified Johnson as having been behind the counter with Bell, Bobbie Bell, and Louis Smith. Johnson was also connected to the crimes by Victor Davis, a friend who had spent most of July 5, 1980, in the company of Johnson. During the course of the investigation, Davis made statements to the prosecution and defense that provided Johnson with an alibi. In essence, Davis said that he and Johnson were together continuously from roughly 3:30 p.m. on July 5 until approximately midnight and that at no time did they visit Bell’s Market. However, the week before the trial, and after he was arrested on unrelated charges of carrying a deadly weapon and public drunkeness, Davis made a statement to the prosecution incriminating Johnson. At trial, Davis, who was promised immunity from prosecution for any involvement in the crimes committed at Bell’s Market, confirmed his statements incriminating Johnson. According to Davis’s testimony, he and Johnson left Franklin, Tennessee, at approximately 9:25 p.m. on July 5 and arrived in Nashville in the vicinity of Bell’s Market shortly before 10:00 p.m. Johnson then left Davis’s automobile after stating that he was going to rob Bell and was going to “try not to leave any witnesses.” Davis testified that he next saw Johnson some five minutes later near Johnson’s father’s house, which was roughly a block from Bell’s Market. Davis stated that Johnson was carrying a sack and pistol and, when he entered Davis’s automobile, Johnson said, “I didn’t mean to shoot that boy.” Johnson discarded the gun, which Davis later retrieved and sold the following day for $40. Davis further testified that after he picked up Johnson, they drove directly to Johnson’s father’s house, arriving shortly after 10:00 p.m. There, in the presence of Johnson’s father, Johnson took money from the sack, counted approximately $200, and gave $40 of this money to Davis. According to Davis, Johnson told his father that he and Davis had been gambling and that gambling was the source of the money. Johnson testified on his own behalf and denied being in Bell’s Market on July 5, 1980. His testimony as to the events of the day was largely in accord with that of Victor Davis, except for the time just before 10:00 p.m. Johnson testified that he never left Davis’s automobile on the trip from Franklin to Johnson’s father’s house in Nashville and that he arrived at his father’s house shortly before 10:00 p.m. Johnson’s father testified that Johnson arrived a few minutes before 10:00, just before the 10:00 p.m. news began. After hearing all the evidence, a Tennessee jury convicted Johnson of three counts of first degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, and two counts of armed robbery. The jury recommended that Johnson be sentenced to death on each count of first degree murder and to consecutive life sentences on each of the remaining counts. The trial court accepted this recommendation and imposed the death penalty. Johnson also murdered fellow death row inmate Laron Williams in 1985. A group of condemned convicts assaulted Williams during an exercise period. Williams had been sentenced to death for the murders of a police officer and a priest.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 3, 2009 Texas Sarah Patterson, 11 Bobby Woods executed
In the early morning hours of April 30, 1997, Bobby Wayne Woods went to the home of his ex-girlfriend Schwana Patterson in Granbury, Texas. Though they had previously lived together, the two had split up. Woods later admitted to having used drugs before going to the house, including "crank" and PCP. Schwana was not at home when Woods arrived, but he found an open window into the bedroom where Schwana’s two children, Sarah, 11, and Cody, nine, were sleeping. He grabbed Sarah by the foot; Cody awoke to Sarah’s screams as Woods beat her chest. Woods forced the two children to leave through the window in their nightclothes and took the children in his car to a cemetery. Enroute, Cody, in the back seat, noticed a black-handled knife in the back of the car. At the cemetery, Woods took Cody out of the car and asked him if his mother was seeing anyone else. He hit Cody, bashed him against a tree and commenced strangling him in front of the car. Cody later testified that he thought he was going to die. He awoke some time later, crawled over a fence, and attracted the attention of a horseback rider who called the police. The police later found Woods and told him that they had the "whole story" from Cody. They asked him to tell them where to find Sarah, hoping that she was still alive. Woods told them, "You will not find her alive. I cut her throat." He then led the police to Sarah’s body and gave them two written statements. In the statements, he admitted to having had sexual contact with Sarah before leaving the house, that he had taken drugs, and that after Cody fell unconscious in the cemetery, Sarah had started screaming. He left with her in the car toward a bridge on Highway 144. She continued to yell that she would tell the police that he had hit Cody. He attempted to quiet her by holding a knife to her throat. According to his statement, Sarah jerked and the knife cut her throat. Her body was clothed in an inside-out shirt, a sports bra, and a pair of shorts, without panties. Her throat had been deeply cut, severing her larynx and several major arteries and veins, causing massive external bleeding that was the cause of her death. Later investigation found Woods’s semen on Sarah’s bedcover, indicating that he had had sexual contact with her. This was borne out in other evidence, including statements by Woods himself, Sarah’s friends, notes she had left in her diary indicating that she hated Woods and wanted him gone, and that she had contracted the sexually-transmitted disease Human Papilloma Virus ("HPV") and Woods was also infected with HPV. When Sarah’s body was later found, forensic evidence including larvae development in her traumatized genitals also indicated that she had been sexually molested shortly before her death. In addition to finding Woods’s semen on Sarah’s blanket, investigators found a large butcher knife, stained with Sarah’s blood, inside a trash bag that Woods had borrowed from a neighbor the morning after he abducted Sarah and Cody. The bag also contained a pawn ticket bearing Woods’s signature and address for items he admitted stealing from the Patterson home. Sarah’s blood was on Woods’s jersey, which was in the back of his car; her panties were on the car’s floorboard. There was evidence that Woods had scratches on his face and arms on the day after the murder that were not there the day before. Woods was arrested and charged with capital murder and was indicted on June 4, 1997, in Hood County, Texas. The indictment charged him with the murder of Sarah Patterson in the course of committing or attempting to commit the kidnapping of Sarah and Cody Patterson, or in the alternative, the murder of Sarah in the course of committing or attempting to commit the aggravated sexual assault of Sarah. He was also indicted for the attempted capital murder of Cody, arising out of the same criminal transaction. On Woods’s motion, venue was changed to Llano County, where he pleaded not guilty. At trial, Woods testified on his own behalf and admitted to the general contours of that morning’s events, including the abductions, but not to the murder. Woods claimed the children were "accidentally" injured. He said he had taken them to a graveyard where they were "playing" and Cody had jumped on his back and was accidentally hurt when Woods stumbled against a fence post. He then blamed a cousin who had died before the trial for Sarah’s murder, however the DNA evidence clearly pointed to Woods. Woods was found guilty by the jury on May 21, 1998. During the punishment phase of the trial, the jury was presented with evidence of Woods’s future dangerousness, including toxicology evidence rebutting Woods’s claims that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the murder and witnesses who testified regarding Woods’s affinity for knives and his propensity to taunt people with them. There was psychiatric testimony that Woods had an antisocial personality disorder. When combined with his violent tendencies, he posed a continuing threat to commit future acts of criminal violence. Following the punishment hearing, the jury returned affirmative answers on May 28 on the issues relating to Woods’s future dangerousness and intent to commit murder, and a negative answer on the existence of mitigating circumstances to justify a life sentence. The Llano County trial court sentenced Woods to death. In October 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted Woods’s scheduled execution to investigate new claims by his attorneys that he was mentally retarded. About the claims, Richard Hattox, the prosecutor from Woods’s capital murder trial said, "There was no history of mental retardation. There were no special education classes ever afforded him. He graduated on time, wasn’t held back in any grades. He was functional. He had a driver’s license." Prior to being arrested for this murder, Woods had worked as a short order cook. The prison psychologist testified that Woods IQ was 83 and that there was no history of mental health treatment. Testimony also showed that Woods had checked out over 100 books from the prison library.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 8, 2009 Ohio Tami Engstrom, 22 Kenneth Biros executed
On 2/7/91, Biros murdered 22-year-old Tami Engstrom in Brookfield Township. Tami had met Biros that night at the Nickelodeon Lounge in Masbury, Ohio. Biros beat and stabbed Tami Engstrom 91 times in an attempt at sexual mutilation and then strangled her to death. Biros also stole Tami’s diamond ring. Biros later showed police where he had hidden Tami’s severed, nude body in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, February 7, 1991, at approximately 5:30 p.m., Tami Engstrom dropped off her one-year-old son at her friend’s house before reporting to work at the Clover Bar in Hubbard, Ohio. Tami’s mother worked with Tami at the Clover Bar. Tami arrived at work at 6:30 p.m. Later, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Tami had to leave work due to illness. Tami’s mother relieved Tami so that she could go home early. However, instead of going directly home, Tami drove to the Nickelodeon Lounge in Masury, Ohio, to visit her uncle who was a regular patron at that tavern. Tami arrived at the Nickelodeon at approximately 10:00 p.m. She was wearing a black leather coat, a sweater, black pants, black shoes, black stockings or socks, and a $1,200 diamond cluster ring she had purchased from a friend a few weeks earlier. She was also carrying a small gray purse which, according to one witness, contained a significant amount of money. At the Nickelodeon, Tami had several drinks and spoke with her uncle and others. Kenneth Biros arrived at the Nickelodeon at approximately 11:00 p.m., having earlier participated in a drinking event sponsored by the Nickelodeon and other bars. Biros knew Tami’s uncle but was a stranger to Tami. By midnight, Tami had passed out, due to either sickness or intoxication, while seated at a table. She later fell off her chair and onto the floor. Her uncle and Biros helped Tami back into her seat. At approximately 1:00 a.m., when the bar was closing, Biros and her uncle assisted Tami outside to the parking lot. Tami insisted on driving herself home, but her uncle took Tami’s car keys upon determining that she was too intoxicated to drive. According to her uncle, Biros then volunteered to take Tami for coffee to help sober her up. Tami’s uncle handed Tami her purse and noticed that she was wearing her leather coat. At approximately 1:15 a.m., Biros and Tami left the Nickelodeon in Biros’s car. Tami’s uncle remained at the bar after closing and waited for Biros to return with Tami. However, Biros never returned Tami to the Nickelodeon. Meanwhile, on February 7, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Tami’s husband Andy went to the Clover Bar to deliver a gift he had bought for Tami. However, Tami’s mother informed Andy that Tami had left work and had gone home sick. Andy drove home and discovered that Tami was not there. Andy then asked the babysitter to continue watching Casey while he went out to search for Tami. At approximately 1:00 a.m., Andy spoke with Tami’s sister who suggested that Tami might have gone to the Nickelodeon. At 1:10 a.m., Andy called the Nickelodeon and was told that Tami and her uncle had already left the bar. Andy then went to sleep, assuming that Tami would soon return home. When he awoke later that morning, he discovered that Tami was still missing. On Friday, February 8, 1991, at or about noon, Andy and a friend went to the Nickelodeon to pick up Tami’s car, which had been left there overnight. At some point, Andy learned that Biros had been the last person seen with Tami. Therefore, Andy drove to Biros’s home and confronted Biros concerning Tami’s whereabouts. Biros told Andy that after he and Tami had left the Nickelodeon to get coffee, he tapped her on the shoulder and she "freaked out, got out of the car and started running through these people’s yards on Davis Street" in Sharon, Pennsylvania. The location where Biros claimed that Tami had jumped from the vehicle was approximately three-tenths of a mile from the Nickelodeon. Andy told Biros that he had already contacted the police in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and that he intended to file a missing person’s report with the Brookfield Township (Ohio) Police Department. Andy told Biros that "if she don’t turn up right fast, they are going to come looking for you, and it’s going to be your ass." Throughout the day on Friday, February 8, Biros told a number of witnesses similar stories concerning Tami’s disappearance. Specifically, he told Tami’s mother, Tami’s brother, Tami’s uncles, her friends, acquaintances, and others, that after he had left the Nickelodeon with Tami, she woke up, became frightened, jumped from his vehicle and ran between houses near Carpenter’s Towing or Carpenter’s Garage on Davis Street in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Biros also indicated that he had initially chased after Tami but that he had been unable to catch her. Biros told a number of these witnesses that he had abandoned the chase to avoid being caught while driving under the influence of alcohol. Several of the witnesses noticed fresh cuts or scratches on Biros’s hands and a fresh wound over his right eye that had not been present the night before. Biros explained that he had cut his hands because he had been locked out of his house and had to break a window, and that he had obtained the cut above his eye while chopping wood. Tami’s brother threatened to kill Biros if Tami had been hurt in any way. One of Tami’s uncles told Biros that if Tami had been hurt, he would "rip your heart out." Tami’s mother told Biros, "if you put one scratch on my daughter, I will kill you." Biros tried to comfort her by telling her, "Don’t worry. Your daughter is going to be just fine. You wait and see." On Friday evening, Biros helped Tami’s relatives search the area in Sharon, Pennsylvania, where he claimed to have last seen Tami. Biros lived on King Graves Road in Brookfield Township, Ohio, with his mother and his brother. On Friday morning, February 8, Biros’s mother found a gold ring on the bathroom floor. The next day, she asked Biros if he knew anything about the ring. Biros claimed to know nothing about it. Biros told his mother that the ring appeared to be made of "cheap gold." When Biros’s mother responded that the ring was not cheap, Biros suggested that perhaps it had belonged to the girl who jumped out of his car early Friday morning. Biros then took the ring and said that he would return it to the Nickelodeon. However, Biros never returned Tami’s ring to the Nickelodeon. Rather, according to Biros, he hid the ring in the ceiling of his house. On Friday night, Biros’s brother was at home watching television while Biros was outside in a pasture behind the house. He went outside and called to Biros to see what he was doing. Biros responded that he was "watching stars." His brother then returned to the house and retired for the evening. On Saturday, February 9, Tami’s family and friends spent hours searching for Tami in Sharon, Pennsylvania. They also searched a wooded area along the railroad tracks near Biros’s home on King Graves Road. However, the search party was unable to uncover any clues concerning Tami’s disappearance. On Saturday afternoon, police called Biros’s home and left a message requesting that he come to the police station for questioning. After receiving the message, Biros drove to the police station to discuss Tami’s disappearance with Brookfield Township and Sharon, Pennsylvania police officers. Police informed Biros that he was not under arrest and that he was free to leave at any time. During questioning, Biros reiterated the same basic story that he had previously told Tami’s friends and relatives. Specifically, Biros told police that he had left the Nickelodeon with Tami in the early morning hours of February 8 to get coffee or food at some location in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Biros claimed that Tami had passed out in his vehicle after they left the Nickelodeon. Biros told police that he stopped at an automated teller machine to withdraw some money and, at that point, Tami woke up and insisted that Biros drive her back to the Nickelodeon. Biros told police that as he was driving on Davis Street in Sharon, Pennsylvania, Tami jumped from the vehicle and ran away. When asked whether Tami’s purse might have been left in his vehicle, Biros responded that he had thoroughly cleaned the vehicle and had found no purse. At some point during the interview, Captain John Klaric of the Sharon Police Department began questioning Biros’s version of the story. Klaric suggested to Biros that perhaps Biros had made some sexual advance toward Tami which, in turn, may have caused her to jump from the vehicle. Biros denied making any sexual advances. Klaric also suggested that perhaps Biros had made some sexual advance and that Tami had jumped from the car and struck her head. Biros denied this as well. Upon further questioning, Klaric suggested that maybe an accident had occurred in which Tami had fallen out of the car and struck her head. At that point, Biros responded "yes," and admitted that he had done something "very bad." Klaric offered to speak with Biros alone. Biros agreed, and indicated that he wanted to speak with Klaric outside the presence of other police officers. According to Klaric, after the other officers had left the room, Biros stated, "It’s like you said, we were in the car together. We were out along the railroad tracks. I touched her on the hand. Then I went further. I either touched or felt her leg. She pushed my hand away. The car wasn’t quite stopped. She opened the door and fell and struck her head on the tracks." Biros told Klaric that Tami was dead and that the incident had occurred along the railroad tracks near King Graves Road in Brookfield Township. At that time, police informed Biros of his Miranda rights. After signing a written waiver of his Miranda rights, Biros repeated his story in the presence of Detective Rocky Fonce of the Brookfield Township Police Department. According to Fonce, Biros admitted that he had reached out and grabbed Tami while parked along the railroad tracks near his house on King Graves Road. Biros told Fonce that Tami had then jumped out of the vehicle, fell, struck her head on the metal part of the railroad track, and died. Biros told police that Tami’s body was in Pennsylvania. When police asked Biros for the precise location of the body, Biros requested to speak with an attorney. After Biros consulted with counsel, he agreed to show police the location of Tami’s body. In the early morning hours of Sunday, February 10, 1991, Pennsylvania and Ohio authorities discovered several of Tami’s severed body parts in a desolate wooded area of Butler County, Pennsylvania. Police found other portions of Tami’s body in a desolate wooded area of Venango County, Pennsylvania, approximately thirty miles north of the Butler site. Tami’s head and right breast had been severed from her torso. Her right leg had been amputated just above the knee. The body was completely naked except for what appeared to be remnants of black leg stockings that had been purposely rolled down to the victim’s feet or ankles. The torso had been cut open and the abdominal cavity was partially eviscerated. The anus, rectum, and all but a small portion of her sexual organs had been removed from the body and were never recovered by police. Forensic technicians, police and homicide investigators searched the area of the railroad tracks near King Graves Road where Biros had indicated that the incident with Tami occurred. There, investigators discovered a large area of bloodstained gravel near the railroad tracks. Investigators also found blood spatters on the side of one of the steel tracks. A number of other bloodstains were found in the same general area. Bloodstains and swabbings of blood collected at the scene were later tested and were found to be consistent with Tami’s blood. Additionally, investigators found what appeared to be part of the victim’s intestines in a swampy area near the railroad tracks. DNA testing revealed that the intestines were, in fact, part of Tami’s remains. Approximately one month later, police recovered Tami’s black leather coat, which was found partially buried a short distance from the tracks. Two cuts or slash marks were found on or near the collar of the coat. Tami’s house keys and a tube of lipstick were found in a shallow hole in close proximity to the coat. Police also found one of Tami’s black leather shoes in the area of the railroad tracks. Dale Laux, a forensic scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, found a single pubic hair inside Tami’s shoe. Laux determined that the microscopic characteristics of that hair were consistent with the characteristics of known samples of Tami’s pubic hair. Police also recovered a number of items during searches of Biros’s residence. Investigators found a bloodstained pocket knife hidden in Biros’s basement. A much larger knife was recovered from Biros’s bathroom. Investigators also recovered a bloodstained coat from Biros’s bedroom, which was later identified as the coat Biros had worn to the Nickelodeon. Forensic experts found numerous bloodstains on the front of the coat, and blood spatters inside the left sleeve. Bloodstains from Biros’s pocket knife and coat were later tested and were found to be consistent with the blood of the victim. Additionally, authorities removed a pair of size eleven tennis shoes from a bedroom in Biros’s home. A forensic scientist in the trace evidence section of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation found a single hair embedded in a seam near the tread of one shoe. He compared the hair to known samples of hair from the victim’s head and testified the hair from the tennis shoe was microscopically consistent with the known samples of hair from the victim’s head. The automobile Biros had driven to the Brookfield Township Police Department was also searched. Forensic technicians found numerous bloodstains consistent with the blood of the victim. Several other bloodstains found in the vehicle were determined to be consistent with Biros’s blood. A small piece of human tissue, believed to be Tami’s liver tissue, was found inside the trunk. Dr. William A. Cox, the Summit County Coroner, performed the autopsy of Tami’s body. Cox testified that he was board certified in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, forensic pathology, and neuropathology. Cox determined that Tami had suffered ninety-one premortem injuries which were indicative of a "severe beating" and "an attempt at sexual mutilation." He also found five stab wounds that had been inflicted immediately after the victim’s death. Among the premortem wounds were at least five blunt force injuries on the top of the victim’s head which, according to Cox, had been caused by an object such as fists or the handle of a knife. Other premortem wounds were found on the victim’s breasts and in the area of her groin. Two premortem knife wounds were discovered near the nipple of the right breast. There were fine linear scratches and a premortem knife laceration or incised wound along the victim’s face and, according to Cox, "the way that is done is the blade of the knife runs down across the mouth and finally gets into the skin, into the soft tissues, then breaks the skin as it continues in the downward direction." Cox also found numerous wounds on the victim’s hands which appeared to be "defensive" injuries. In addition to the ninety-one premortem wounds and the five postmortem stab wounds, Tami’s head, right breast and right lower extremity had been severed from her body at some point after death. Her anus, rectum, urinary bladder, and virtually all of her sexual organs had been cut out and were never found. The gallbladder, the right lobe of the liver, and portions of the bowels had been extracted from her body. According to Cox, a pocket knife like the one removed from Biros’s basement could have been used to inflict some of the wounds found on Tami’s body. However, Cox found that a much larger or heavier knife had been used to amputate Tami’s head and right lower extremity. Cox testified that the victim’s right femur had been severed by a sharp knife which had left a "fine linear cut" in the bone. Cox specifically determined that the evidence indicated that the femur had not been fractured by any blunt force trauma or as the result of an automobile accident. Cox testified that the knife recovered from Biros’s bathroom was consistent with the type of knife that had been used to accomplish the amputations. Cox found that the dismemberment and eviscerations all occurred within minutes after the killer had inflicted the five postmortem stab wounds. He found no evidence that the victim had been struck by an automobile as Biros would later claim. With respect to Tami’s cause of death, Cox concluded that the victim had died of asphyxia due to strangulation. According to Cox, the victim had been strangled to death over a period of four to five minutes. The mucosal lining of the esophagus was torn, indicating that there was a degree of retching and vomiting during this period. Cox testified that, in his opinion, the victim had not been asphyxiated by a hand placed over the nose and mouth. Examination of the victim’s oral cavity revealed no signs of injury to the tongue or the delicate tissue inside the mouth. Absent such injuries, Cox found no evidence to support the theory that the victim had been forcibly suffocated as opposed to being strangled to death. Further, the hyoid bone had been fractured and there was injury to adjacent tissue, which supported the finding that the victim had been strangled. According to Cox, Tami was severely beaten, strangled to death, and then stabbed five times. The five postmortem stab wounds had occurred within minutes after death. Later, but still within minutes, Tami’s body was dismembered. At trial, Biros testified in his own defense. Biros claimed that when the Nickelodeon Lounge was closing at 1:00 a.m., February 8, Tami’s uncle asked Biros to take Tami for coffee or breakfast to help sober her up. Biros agreed and left the Nickelodeon with Tami. He then drove into nearby Sharon, Pennsylvania, to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine. At some point, Biros reached over and shook Tami, since she had fallen asleep. Tami awoke and said that she wanted to go home. She told Biros that her home was in Hubbard, Ohio, but would not say exactly where she lived. Therefore, Biros decided to take Tami to his home to let her "sleep it off." Biros testified that he decided on his way home to drive along the gravel railroad bed which would have taken him to within a few hundred feet of his residence on King Graves Road. While driving on the railroad bed, he reached over and grabbed Tami’s hand to wake her. According to Biros, Tami suddenly awoke, looked at him, and began yelling, "I don’t know you. Where are we at?" She hit Biros and yelled at him. Biros forcibly struck Tami with his forearm. Tami then fled from the vehicle and took off running along the railroad tracks. Biros claimed that he drove along the railroad tracks to try to head Tami off to speak with her. However, according to Biros, he inadvertently struck Tami with the vehicle, causing her to topple over the car at a forty-five degree angle with her head positioned toward the gravel railroad bed. Biros testified that he got out of the car and rolled Tami over onto her back. She was bleeding and her head was positioned against the steel rail of the railroad track. According to Biros, Tami pushed him and began screaming, swearing, and throwing rocks. At that point, Biros decided to pull out his pocket knife to "calm" Tami down. However, Tami grabbed the knife and a struggle ensued. Biros cut his hand, but was able to regain control of the knife. Meanwhile, Tami continued to scream. Therefore, according to Biros, he pinned Tami down and placed his hand over her mouth until she stopped struggling. When Biros removed his hand from Tami’s mouth, he realized that she had died. Biros then became upset and frustrated, so he stabbed her several times. Biros testified that after he had killed and stabbed Tami, he "panicked," drove home, tended to his wounds, and washed his clothes. Biros testified that he returned to the body fifteen to twenty minutes later and became very angry, believing that Tami had "just destroyed my life." At that point, Biros took his pocket knife and began cutting Tami’s body. Biros claimed that he removed Tami’s clothes because they were "in the way." Next, according to Biros, he dragged the body some distance into the woods, and felt Tami’s ring cutting into his left hand. Thus, he removed the ring and placed it in his pocket. Biros testified that he attempted to bury Tami’s body in a shallow hole in the ground, but that the body would not fit into the hole. Therefore, he amputated the head and leg with his pocket knife and placed those body parts in a separate hole. Biros then placed Tami’s clothes in other holes in the ground. After burying the body, Biros returned home. Biros testified that later on Friday morning, February 8, 1991, he found Tami’s purse in his car and burned the purse in the fireplace. He then washed his car. On Friday night, Biros decided to move the body, since he had been confronted and threatened by Tami’s relatives. Late that night, while his brother was watching television, Biros retrieved Tami’s body parts, loaded them into the car, and drove to Pennsylvania and disposed of the body. Biros lied to police, to Tami’s relatives, and to his own mother. At trial, Biros denied telling police at the Brookfield Township Police Department that while Biros and Tami were seated in the car, Biros had placed his hand on Tami’s hand and then "went further" and touched or felt her leg. Biros denied having had any sexual intentions toward Tami, but admitted cutting out her vagina and rectum thirty to forty-five minutes after he killed her. Biros was able to recall some of the most minute details of the night in question, but was unable to remember where he had disposed of Tami’s anus, rectum, and sexual organs. He also denied having had any intention of stealing Tami’s property, but he admitted burying her clothes, taking her ring, and burning her purse. Additionally, Biros admitted lying to his mother about Tami’s ring and later hiding that ring in the ceiling of his house. Biros testified that he had no intention to kill or harm Tami on the night in question. He testified further that he never struck Tami with his fists or with the blunt end of a knife. Dr. Karle Williams, a forensic pathologist, testified for the defense. Williams was not present during Tami’s autopsy and never personally examined the body. Williams based his opinions upon a review of, among other things, Dr. Cox’s autopsy report and a review of numerous photographs of the victim and the crime scene. Williams disagreed, at least in part, with Cox’s conclusion that Tami had suffered a severe beating. Williams believed that perhaps Tami’s right leg had been fractured before death and that some of her injuries may have been caused by being struck by a car and falling or lying on the gravel railroad bed. Additionally, Williams concluded that Tami may have died due to suffocation rather than manual strangulation. However, Williams admitted on cross-examination that, in this case, "you have to think of manual strangulation. Absolutely." The jury found Biros guilty of all charges and specifications alleged in the indictment, with the exception of the offense charged in Count Three of the indictment which had previously been dismissed by the prosecution. Following a mitigation hearing, the jury recommended that Biros be sentenced to death for the aggravated murder of Tami. The trial court accepted the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Biros to death. Tami Engstrom’s sister Debi Heiss spoke at a press conference in December 2006 and urged members of the community to write letters to the Attorney General urging that Biros’s clemency plea be rejected. "Kenneth Biros beat, tortured, sexually assaulted, mutilated, dismembered and robbed Tami with no remorse. He has been given more humanity and mercy from the state than my sister ever had. It’s time for justice to be served." Debi Heiss said, "Tami was my sister and my best friend. She was raped, she was tortured for hours. She had to be so scared that night." In November, 2009, Tami’s son Casey, who is now an adult asked the Ohio Parole Board to reject clemency for his mother’s murderer and ”fry” Kenneth Biros. Casey Engstrom, who was only a year-and-a-half old when his mother was murdered, asked his grandmother Pat Engstrom to deliver his message when she appeared before the parole board. Now a student in California, Casey also lost his father when he died about four years ago. Mary Jane Heiss, Tami’s mother, sent a video-taped victim impact statement to the board. She told them how much stress the murder and the appeals process have put on her family. She pointed out that she has diabetes and uses a needle to take her insulin shots four times a day. She sees no need to revise the state’s lethal injection protocol. Tami Engstrom’s family had already traveled to Lucasville to witness Biros’ execution in 2007, only to learn that he had received a stay in order to present challenges to lethal injection procedures.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 9, 2009 Tennessee Kadhem Al-Maily Devin Banks stayed
Devin Banks is on death row for killing a friend and severely wounding a second man who was left for dead in the driveway of his home during a robbery. Banks was convicted of premeditated murder, murder during the perpetration of a robbery, attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to death for the 2002 killing of Kadhem Al-Maily and 50 years in prison for robbery and the attempted murder of Hussain Atilebawi. Both victims were immigrants from Iraq who lived and worked in Memphis. Kadhem Al-Maily was widely known and respected among the Iraqi community in Memphis because he had a reputation of helping persons in need. He and Atilebawi had been acquainted in Iraq and became close friends in Memphis. “After they moved to Memphis, both Mr. Al-Maily and Mr. Atilebawi befriended Devin Banks. Banks was welcome in Mr. Atilebawi’s home and he occasionally spent the night at Mr. Atilebawi’s house.” The friendship between the Iraqi men and Banks soured because of an incident involving a former girlfriend of Banks and because Banks believed Atilebawi owed him money. Banks asked a friend, Michael Hilliard, to obtain a handgun and assist him in killing Atilebawi. Three nights later, the men went to Atilebawi’s house, armed with a.22 caliber semi-automatic pistol provided by Hilliard. After being welcomed into Atilebawi’s home, Banks borrowed a cordless phone and went outside to call Hilliard who was waiting nearby. When Atilebawi also walked outside, Banks shot him four times, including three times after he was lying in the driveway. Banks re-entered the house and confronted Al-Maily, who turned over $300 in cash. He ordered Al-Maily to lie face down on a bedroom floor while he and Hilliard loaded items stolen from the house into cars belonging to Atilebawi. They returned to the house, where Banks shot Al-Maily in the head. The men then fled in the stolen cars. Atilebawi survived his wounds and was able to call for help. He told officers on the scene what had happened. Banks was arrested driving one of the stolen vehicles which contained stolen cash and merchandise. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Banks gave two confessions. In the second confession, he admitted shooting the victims and provided details of the crime. He was convicted in 2005 and during the penalty phase was sentenced to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2009 Indiana Debbie Wrinkles, 31
Tony Fulkerson, 28
Natalie Fulkerson, 26
Eric Wrinkles executed
Matthew Eric Wrinkles was sentenced to death for the murders of his estranged wife and his wife’s brother and sister-in-law. In June 1994, Wrinkles’ wife Debbie and the couple’s two children, Lindsay and Seth, moved into the Evansville home of Mark and Natalie Fulkerson, Debbie’s brother and sister-in-law. Wrinkles filed for divorce on June 30, 1994, and Debbie obtained a protective order that same day prohibiting Wrinkles from having any contact with her and the children. At a provisional divorce hearing on July 20, 1994, Debbie agreed to a rescission of the protective order, and Wrinkles and Debbie agreed that Debbie would retain custody of the children but Wrinkles would have reasonable visitation rights. Wrinkles and Debbie agreed to meet later that day at a local fast food restaurant so that Wrinkles could see his children, whom he had not seen in over a month. However, Debbie and the children never showed up. Wrinkles called his divorce attorney, who told him that although nothing could be done that night because the courts were closed, he would take care of it tomorrow. Wrinkles, still frustrated, called the Fulkerson home to speak with Debbie, but she was not there. When Debbie returned later that night, she called Wrinkles to set up a meeting for the next day, but there was no answer. Around 2 a.m. on July 21, 1994, Wrinkles parked his truck a block away from the Fulkerson home, put on camouflage clothing, painted his face, and armed himself with a.357 magnum revolver and a knife. He then climbed over a fence into the Fulkersons’ backyard, cut the telephone wires, and kicked in the back door. Wrinkles first approached Mark in his bedroom, shooting him four times in the presence of his three-year-old son. Awakened by the gunshots, Debbie entered the bedroom hallway and saw that Wrinkles had shot her brother. Debbie, who had already grabbed her gun for protection, shot Wrinkles in the arm and then fell to the floor. Lindsay, also awakened by the gunshots, entered the bedroom hallway and, upon seeing her father about to shoot her mother, pleaded, "Dad, please don’t shoot Mom." Wrinkles responded "shut up" and then shot Debbie in the chest. In the meantime, the sister-in-law Natalie ran out the front door. Wrinkles followed Natalie onto the front porch and shot her in the face at close range. Subsequent autopsies revealed that Mark, Debbie, and Natalie each died from gunshot wounds. Police apprehended Wrinkles later that morning in Warrick County. The trial was held on May 15-19, 1995. The defense theory at trial was that because of a combination of Debbie depriving Wrinkles of access to his children and his methamphetamine addiction, Wrinkles broke into the Fulkerson home to get his children and shot the victims only after Debbie shot him and the other victims pointed guns at him. The jury found him guilty as charged. The penalty phase was held on May 20, 1995, and the jury returned a recommendation of death. A month later, the trial court, finding that the multiple murder aggravator outweighed the mitigators, imposed the death penalty.

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