Parole board rejects mercy for Ohio killer of 3-year-old

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2016 11:38 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's prison parole board on Friday rejected mercy for a man set to die in January for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.

Ronald Phillips, 43, is the first death row inmate scheduled for execution next year under a new process for putting condemned prisoners to death.

Gov. John Kasich has the final say. The governor rejected Phillips' previous clemency request in 2013.

The board voted 10-2 against recommending mercy, turning down arguments that Phillips was the product of a horrific upbringing and that his trial was marked by legal mistakes and missteps.

"Phillips' crime involved the killing of a vulnerable three-year-old victim, an abuse of trust, and extensive victimization, therefore making it among the worst of the worst capital crimes," the board said.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to execute Phillips and two other inmates with a three-drug combination that's similar to a method it used several years ago.

Phillips' attorneys asked the board to spare the inmate, calling the case tragic but arguing that Phillips is not among the worst of the worst offenders.

"Evidence of Phillips's background, history, dysfunctional upbringing, and his reformed character demonstrate that he should not be executed for the murder of Sheila Marie Evans," attorneys Tim Sweeney and Lisa Lagos wrote in a Nov. 25 filing.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh says Phillips refuses to accept responsibility and it's time for justice to be served.

She also called Phillips' 2013 request for an execution delay to allow him to donate organs to family members "bogus."

"Phillips has continually engaged in misdirection during his case besides his bogus request to donate his organs," Walsh said in a filing with the board. "While he claims he takes responsibility for the despicable torture he inflicted on Sheila, he consistently blames others for his actions."

Spiritual advisers for Phillips testified at the board's Dec. 1 hearing that Phillips does take responsibility and wants to make contributions for good while behind bars.

In 2013, the parole board voted unanimously against clemency for Phillips.

Phillips' execution was previously scheduled and delayed several times, including when Kasich allowed time for a last-minute request by Phillips to donate organs. The request was ultimately denied. Phillips wanted to donate a kidney to his mother, who was on dialysis, and possibly his heart to his sister. His mother has since died.

Ohio is returning to a form of execution it used from 1999 to late 2006, involving drugs that put inmates to sleep, paralyze them and stop their hearts.

The drugs are midazolam, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

The prisons agency won't say where the drugs are from, citing a new state law that shields that information.