In 2014, a controversial incident forced Ohio state officials to reconsider the death penalty. Although lethal injection has been carried out in a number of states without concern, the execution of Dennis McGuire didn’t go as planned. McGuire was seen gasping to breath and snorting, as though choking, for 15 minutes. Eventually, the inmate died, but the incident forced lawmakers to reconsider the death penalty and Ohio hasn’t performed a single execution since that incident.
Ohio Resumes Capital Punishment
Ronald Phillips holds the dubious honor of having been the first inmate to be put to death in the three years, since the execution of McGuire. At 10:43 a.m. on Wednesday, Phillips was executed via lethal injection. Carrying out Phillips’ death sentence seems to have been a test run for the state with reports surfacing that Ohio will now begin resuming executions.
In fact, the state has 138 inmates awaiting execution, which makes Ohio among the highest in terms of death row occupants. There are currently plans to continue the executions through 2020.
State executions have declined in recent years, as governments have researched drugs that would commit the act in a more humane fashion. Concerns are that the current method of lethal injection is cruel and painful, making it a contradiction to the U.S. constitution.
Who Was Ronald Phillips?
The fact that Phillips was the first man to be executed in three years raises curiosity about his crimes. In fact, Ronald was convicted in 1993 for raping and murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s daughter.
Phillips was just 19, when he was brought to trial, and his lawyer used that fact to try to obtain leniency in sentencing. The court wasn’t sympathetic to the defense and sentenced Mr. Phillips to death.
Since that sentence, Ronald launched an appeal himself, asking to be granted a stay from execution. He told the Supreme Court that he has changed, since committing crimes against Sheila Evans, and that he had become a new person. His request was denied.
Timothy F. Sweeney and Lisa M. Lagos, attorneys for Ron Phillips, had released a statement expressing their belief that Ronald had been changed by his years in prison. They said he resigned himself to his fate and had learned remorse, compassion, and respect for others.
At the time of his execution, Ronald Phillips expressed his remorse and guilt to his victim’s family.
“To the Evans family, I’m sorry you had to live so long with my evil actions,” he said. “All those years I prayed you’d forgive me and find it in your heart to forgive and have mercy on me.”