2017-07-24 13:23:22 UTC
Execution set for Wednesday puts Ohio back in national spotlight
Had she lived, Sheila Marie Evans would be 27 years old.
She was just 3 when, over 2 or 3 days in January 1993, she was beaten,
repeatedly raped anally, thrown against a wall and punched so hard in the
abdomen that it killed her.
There is no way to know whether Sheila realized she was dying. But there is no
doubt that she was scared and defenseless.
By comparison, Ronald Phillips, 43, the Summit County man found guilty of
murdering the child, has known what was supposed to be the hour of his death on
a half-dozen occasions. Each time he was scheduled to be executed by Ohio,
Phillips received a reprieve from the courts or Gov. John Kasich, who was
forced to shuffle execution dates due primarily to a lack of necessary
That could change at 10 a.m. Wednesday, when Phillips has what could be a real
date with death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.
The case puts Ohio in the national spotlight because the state has not held an
execution since Jan. 16, 2014, when Dennis McGuire struggled, coughed and
gasped through a 26-minute death marathon.
The number of new death sentences and executions has dropped dramatically
nationwide, but Ohio's 27 scheduled executions prompted some critics to call it
the "Texas of the North." Texas traditionally leads the country in
capital-punishment numbers, but even there numbers have declined.
That Phillips has avoided the executioner so many times is unique in Ohio's
modern history of the death penalty, which resumed in 1999 after a 36-year
hiatus. All 53 people executed since then have been men.
Phillips once received a stay of execution to pursue the possibility of
donating a kidney to his ailing mother, but the surgery never happened, and his
Last week, a coalition of clergy members, former corrections professionals,
exonerated inmates and representatives of Ohioans to Stop Executions held a
Statehouse press conference urging Kasich, who is a Christian, to "follow his
faith" by sparing Phillips' life. Kasich's office had no immediate response.
Sister Helen Prejean, a nun and death-penalty opponent who wrote the book "Dead
Man Walking" that inspired the movie of the same name, has taken to Twitter
several times urging that Phillips be spared.
"Gov. John Kasich should not ask his state's correctional employees to kill
people," she said. "The death penalty is harmful to those who carry it out."
Phillips still has a shot at avoiding execution through last-ditch appeals to
the U.S. Supreme Court or another clemency grant from Kasich. But there is no
indication that either of those things is likely to happen, especially given
the recent power shift on the U.S. Supreme Court with President Donald Trump's
appointment of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.
There is no doubt about Phillips' guilt in the case. Although his stories
changed, Phillips admitted raping and killing the little girl.
His attorneys argued that he had an abusive childhood, that he is a changed man
after being locked up for 24 years, and that the untried combination of
lethal-injection chemicals could cause an extremely painful death in violation
of the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
A federal judge in Dayton and a 3-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals sided with Phillips' lethal-injection argument, but Ohio Attorney
General Mike DeWine appealed to the full 6th Circuit, which ruled 10-8 against
Phillips, clearing the way for his execution.
Problems with the McGuire execution in 2014 triggered a series of legal appeals
and a struggle to find suitable execution drugs. European drugmakers have
essentially shut down the supply of lethal chemicals to U.S. prisons, but Ohio
legislators passed a law permitting the state to secretly buy lethal-injection
drugs from compounding pharmacies that mix chemicals to customer
specifications. Prison officials hired a contractor to buy drugs from abroad,
but federal regulators stopped the purchase.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced on Oct. 3 that
it has drugs to execute Phillips and 2 other inmates using a revised
combination of midazolam, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Since
then, the department has obtained a larger stock of drugs.
The Ohio Parole Board, which is required by law to make a recommendation to the
governor in capital-punishment cases, voted 10-2 against clemency for Phillips
in December. The board also had voted unanimously against clemency for him in
In the December decision, the parole board's majority said his crime involved
"the killing of a vulnerable 3-year-old victim, an abuse of trust, and an
extensive victimization, therefore making it among the worst of the worst of
The 2 board members who disagreed questioned evidence regarding the rape of the
child on the day she died.
The dead girl's half sister, Renee Mundell, read a letter at Phillips' clemency
hearing held Dec. 1.
"I can't seem to face the reality of what my sister must have went threw. (sic)
The fear she must have felt. The loneliness and pain she endured. She couldn't
have had any kind of understanding of what was happening to her or why,"
"I was confused about this death penalty. But in this case, I'm not anymore."
(source: The Columbus Dispatch)
Ohio set to resume executions, child killer awaits appeals
Ohio is moving toward carrying out its 1st execution in more than 3 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
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
3-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:
Phillips stayed behind at his girlfriend's Akron apartment with her 2 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 2 previous times, the document said.
He was convicted and sentenced to death later that year.
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.
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 1st 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
Phillips still has 2 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.
(source: The Republic)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
DeathPenalty mailing list