Ohio set to resume executions, as Akron child killer awaits appeals

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is moving toward carrying out its first execution in more than three years.

The last time that happened was January 2014 when a condemned inmate repeatedly gasped and snorted during a 26-minute procedure with a never-before-tried drug combo.

Executions have been on hold since because the state had trouble finding new supplies of drugs, and death row inmates challenged Ohio’s plans for a new three-drug execution method.

A look at the case of death row inmate Ronald Phillips who is awaiting decisions on his final appeals ahead of his scheduled execution Wednesday:

BRUTAL KILLING

Phillips stayed behind at his girlfriend’s Akron apartment with her two young daughters while she took her son to the doctor in January 1993. When she got back, her 3-year-old was motionless on a bed. The toddler, Sheila Marie Evans, died hours later at a hospital.

The little girl had bruises all over her body, an autopsy found, and had been beaten on the head, face, lower torso, arms, legs and genitalia.

Phillips, then 19, first denied hurting the girl but then told a police detective he threw the girl against a wall and beat her after she didn’t come to breakfast, a parole board document said. He also admitted to raping the girl that morning and two previous times, the document said.

He was convicted and sentenced to death later that year.

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ORGAN DONATION

Phillips has had several delays to scheduled executions, most notably in 2013 when he made a last-minute plea to donate his organs.

He wanted to give a kidney to his mother, who was on dialysis, and possibly his heart to his sister. His request was denied and his mother has since died.

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WORST OF WORST

Phillips went up before the Ohio Parole Board in 2013 to ask for clemency but they rejected him, calling the killing “among the worst of the worst.”

“Words cannot convey the barbarity of the crime. It is simply unconscionable,” the board said.

They also noted that in his first interviews with police that Phillips tried to shift blame onto the girl’s mother.

The parole board last year voted against mercy again, rejecting arguments that Phillips had a terrible childhood and that there were legal mistakes at his trial.

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FINAL APPEALS

Phillips still has two appeals pending.

Last week, he asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay based on his age at the time of the killing. He was 19 — older than the Supreme Court’s cutoff of 18 for purposes of barring executions of juveniles — and argues the cutoff age should be 21.

He also wants a delay based on an execution method he and other inmates have challenged. Phillips’ attorneys say they need time to appeal a lower court decision allowing Ohio to use the new method.

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