An Ohio man convicted of raping and killing a child was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday morning, July 26, ending a three-year delay for executions in the state over a lethal injection drug shortage.
Ronald Phillips, 43, was pronounced dead at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville at 10:43 a.m. EST, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Before he died, the Journal reported that he expressed remorse for his “evil actions” and apologized to the family of the victim who had gathered.
“Sheila Marie didn’t deserve what I did to her,” said Philips when he gave his final statement, ending with “I love you all and God bless you. Thank you.”
Family of the victim told local media that this was the first time in 24 years that they had heard Phillips express remorse for his actions.
Phillips was 19 when he and his girlfriend were both arrested for the death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans.
Phillips was given the death sentence for murder and rape, while his girlfriend, Fae Amanda Evans, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for failing to protect her daughter. Evans died of cancer in prison in 2008 while serving a 13- to 30-year sentence.
A reporter for the Columbus Dispatch who witnessed the execution said that Phillips did not struggle after the lethal injection was administered.
Phillips’s execution had been delayed repeatedly since he was first sentenced to death in 1993. According to court documents, Phillips appealed to have his case reviewed numerous times using a variety of legal methods, which ultimately delayed his execution date for more than two decades.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied appeals from Phillips on Tuesday, July 24.
Ohio’s last execution was in January 2014, where it lethally injected Dennis McGuire with an untested drug formula. According to witnesses, the execution took 25 minutes and McGuire gasped and convulsed for 15 minutes.
In 2015, Ohio implemented a moratorium on executions while they searched for an acceptable drug alternative. The following year, they announced that they would restart executions with a new three-drug lethal injection blend.
Federal courts disputed the acceptability of the new blend of drugs in January 2017, but the order was overturned in June.
Phillips’s execution was also delayed in 2013 by Gov. John Kasich to allow time for a last-minute request by Phillips to donate his kidney to his ailing mother. The request was ultimately denied, and his mother has since died.
Attorneys said in a statement on Wednesday, July 25, that Phillips had recently earned his certification to be a minister, and tried to “atone for his shameful role in Sheila’s death.”
Local media reported that Phillips’s last meal before the day of the execution consisted of: A large cheese, bell pepper, and mushroom pizza; strawberry cheesecake; 2-liter bottle of Pepsi; grape juice; and a piece of unleavened bread.