Clemency hearing set for inmate with January execution date

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has scheduled a clemency hearing for the first inmate scheduled for execution next year under a new process for putting condemned prisoners to death.

Ronald Phillips is set to die Jan. 12 for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.

The state prisons agency on Tuesday scheduled a Dec. 1 hearing during which Phillips’ attorneys can ask the Ohio Parole Board for mercy. Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, will have the final say.

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

In 2013, the parole board voted unanimously against clemency for Phillips, saying the killing was “among the worst of the worst.”

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

Board members also said they weren’t convinced Phillips had fully accepted responsibility. They said he tried to shift blame onto the girl’s mother and onto Phillips’ father, for allegedly abusing Phillips as a child.

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.

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 Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t say where the drugs are from, citing a new state law that shields that information.

Experts say the state could have:

— Bought the drugs from a pharmaceutical distribution company that obtained them from a drugmaker that doesn’t have strict controls in place to keep drugs from being used in executions.

— Bought the drugs from a distribution company that has them as overstock from a time before such controls went into place.

— Bought the drugs from a pharmacy that knows its identity won’t be revealed by the new law.

— Obtained the drugs from a death penalty state with drugs it doesn’t need.

“With the secrecy provisions, we have no way of knowing if drugs were obtained legitimately or through some kind of misrepresentation,” Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, said Tuesday.

comments powered by Disqus