The Ohio Parole Board has recommended that Gov. John Kasich move forward with the execution of Ronald Phillips, an Akron man convicted of raping and murdering a 3-year-old girl.
Phillips’ friends and attorneys sought mercy last week in Columbus. Phillips, 43, has been on death row since 1993. He’s scheduled to be the first man executed in Ohio since Dennis McGuire, who in 2014 suffered for 26 minutes before dying — the longest in Ohio’s history — after lethal injection drugs were administered.
Phillips was convicted in 1993 of beating and raping his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans, who died Jan. 18, 1993, of injuries from the violence. Her family urged the Parole Board to deny requests to let Phillips live.
But Phillips’ supporters argued he has a life worth sparing. If spared from the death penalty, he vowed to become a chaplain serving his fellow inmates.
According to a clemency report filed with the governor’s office on Friday, the Parole Board voted 10-2 to deny the request to spare his life. Kasich will have the final say on Phillips’ fate.
Members of the board in favor of Phillips’ execution said it was appropriate because Phillips’ actions were “among the worst of the worst capital crimes.” They noted that Phillips grew up in a dysfunctional environment, but opined that it was unclear how much abuse he personally endured.
The two who voted in favor of Phillips spending his life in prison questioned the reliability of some of the opinions offered by a medical examiner during Phillips’ trial in 1993.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh agreed with the Parole Board’s recommendation.
“Phillips brutally beat and assaulted Sheila Marie over several hours. She suffered for days before dying from her injuries,” she said. “Phillips deserves the ultimate punishment for what he did.”
Walsh noted that Friday’s recommendation was the third time the Ohio Parole Board has advised Kasich to deny mercy for Phillips. She said she hopes Kasich agrees.
An Ohio interfaith organization, though, urged Kasich to go against the recommendation.
“Ronald Phillips is a different person today than he was when he killed 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans,” said the Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson, executive director of the Ohio Council of Churches and Faith in Public Life. “We believe Mr. Phillips can and should be held accountable, and we can do that without killing him.”
Amanda Hoyt, Ohio director of Faith in Public Life, agreed with Tollefson.
“Our greatest call as evangelicals is to make disciples of men. Ronald Phillips has an opportunity to reach the lost and advance the kingdom of God,” she said. “Through his ministry, Mr. Phillips is reaching men who need to hear the gospel, providing light for those trapped in darkness.”
Tollefson announced the groups will launch a postcard campaign this weekend to urge Kasich to spare Phillips.
The recommendation from the Parole Board comes days after the Ohio Attorney General’s Office denied an attempt to delay Phillips’ execution. His attorneys sought a delay because of questions regarding a new lethal injection method.
Source: ohio.com, Nick Glunt, December 9, 2016
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