Ronald Phillips doesn’t like needles. Never has, he even told a panel determining whether he would live or die. Not that most people care what the 43-year-old Ohio child killer thinks. In 1993, Phillips raped and murdered his girlfriend’s daughter, Sheila Marie Evans. She was three.
Phillips had been penciled in for a one-way ticket to oblivion on Feb. 15, when he’d be strapped to a gurney and executed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
NBC News reported that a panel that signed the sex killer’s death warrant wrote in 2013: “Phillips’s crime is clearly among the worst of the worst capital crimes. Its depravity is self-evident. Words cannot convey the barbarity of the crime. It is simply unconscionable.”
But now, Sheila’s family will have to wait yet again for ultimate justice after a federal judge declared the state’s new lethal injection process unconstitutional.
Judge Michael Merz oversaw a week-long hearing on Ohio’s planned three-drug method. Merz agreed that the first drug in the process, midazolam, couldn’t pass the “serious harm” bar. The judge also put the kibosh on the second and third drugs. He called the state’s position “inconsistent.”
Merz noted another delay doesn’t serve the goal of crime deterrence. An appeal is likely.
Executions have been on ice in the state since January 2014, when it took 26 minutes for Dennis McGuire to die. McGuire raped 30-weeks’ pregnant Joy Stewart, 22, then slit her throat. Her baby also died.
But because European manufacturers halted selling drugs used for the death penalty, executions were put on hold.
Two other doomed men will also likely have their date with justice delayed.
Raymond Tibbetts, 59, beat his wife to death with a baseball bat over his crack cocaine habit and then later stabbed an elderly man to death. He’s getting the needle for the senior’s death.
Gary Otte, 44, shot to death Robert Wasikowski, 61, after asking to use the man’s phone. The next day, he murdered Sharon Kostura, 45, in the same building. He’ll be executed for both murders.
By Brad Hunter