Updated: Monday, July 24, 2017 12:04 pm EDT
Ronald Phillips is scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled from May 10, 2017. Forty-three-year-old Ronald is convicted of murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans on January 18, 1993. Ronald has spent the past 23 years on Ohio’s death row.
During his trial evidence was presented that Phillips had a difficult childhood, as his mother was an alcoholic. She would frequently leave her children, including Ronald, home alone for days at a time, forcing them to beg for food and eat paint chips and garbage. Ronald also spent time in several foster homes in which he was repeatedly raped and abused. He also alleges that his father sexually, physically, and verbally abused him during childhood.
Fae Evans, Sheila’s mother, was dating Ronald Phillips and occasionally living with him, along with her three children, Sheila, 29-month-old Sara, and Ronald Jr., Phillips’ infant son. On January 18, 1993, Fae took Ronald Jr., to a doctor’s appointment and left Sheila and Sara to be watched by Phillips. Fae returned to the apartment around 11:25, and found Phillips sitting in the kitchen. When Fae called for her daughters, they failed to respond. Phillips went into the girls’ bedroom, where he found Sheila laying cold, motionless, and pale. Phillips took Sheila downstairs to his grandmother’s apartment, where they called an emergency operator. Since Sheila was not breathing, the operator told Phillips how to perform CPR until paramedics arrived.
Once paramedics arrived, they immediately transferred Sheila to the Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Eugene Izsak, the first doctor to examine Sheila, noticed that she had multiple bruises on her torso, a distended stomach, apparent internal abdominal injuries, and a stretched anus with acute, recent changes. After obtaining a steady pulse, surgery was performed on Sheila, which showed the extent of her severe internal injuries. Sheila died from her injuries later that day.
An autopsy discovered that Sheila had over 125 bruises, many which occurred within hours of her death. Sheila had been severely beaten around her head, face, upper and lower torso, arms, legs, and genitalia. Blows to her abdomen resulted in severe internal injuries. Sheila died as a result of cardiovascular collapse which was the result of sever, blunt force trauma to her abdomen, and numerous complications. Furthermore, it was determined that Sheila had been raped.
That night Phillips was questioned by police. A few days later, Phillips confessed to the police that the morning of Sheila’s murder, she had failed to appear at breakfast after he called her three times. Phillips went into her room, pulled her covers off and began beating her. Phillips admitted to hitting her, throwing her against the wall, and dragging her by her hair. He also admitted to penetrating her anus with his finger, but denied going further, although he confessed that had on two other occasions, because, allegedly, Fae had paid him. Phillips gave a written statement and was arrested shortly thereafter.
Phillips was found guilty by a jury on August 18, 1993. He received the death penalty on September 14, 1993.
Fae was tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering and received a 13 to 30 year sentence. She died of leukemia while in prison on July 8, 2008.
Ronald Phillips was originally scheduled to be execution on November 14, 2013. He was granted a last minute stay of execution by Ohio Governor John Kasich after Ronald requested to donate his organs to his mother and sister upon his death. The stay was granted in order to allow time to consider this request. As the prison was not equipped to handle such a request, it was denied. Ronald then requested that he be allowed to donate a kidney to his mother, as she had been unable to find a match.
Ronald’s execution was rescheduled to July 2, 2014. State law requires that the inmate have 100 days to recover from surgery before an execution. In order to perform the surgery, specifically receiving Ronald’s kidney, Ronald's mother needed to lose weight. She was unable to do so before the 100 day deadline, meaning Ronald was unable to donate his organ.
Ronald’s execution was further prolonged after the January 2014, execution of Dennis McGuire, which used a new two-drug execution process. The execution took longer than expected, with debate over whether Dennis was fully unconscious for the execution. Due to the investigation which occurred after Dennis’ execution, Ohio rescheduled all planned executions. Ronald’s July 2, 2014, execution date was rescheduled to February 11, 2015. The February execution was then delayed due to ongoing legal challenges to Ohio’s execution method and the difficulty obtaining execution drugs.
Ronald was then scheduled to be executed in January of 2017. That execution was again delayed by a federal judge due to lawsuits. Following the judges ruling, Ohio governor John Kasich announced that he had rejected a request for clemency from Ronald, and rescheduled Ronald's execution for February 15, 2017.
Ronald's February execution was stayed by US Magistrate Judge Michael Merz. The stay of execution issued by Judge Merz will be vacated once the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the case currently before them regarding the Ohio’s law that protects the identity of the company that supplies the execution drugs. Lawyers for the inmates argue that without knowing the identity of the drug supplier they cannot properly defend their clients. Over 60 death row inmates are part of the lawsuit. Ronald's execution was then rescheduled for May 10, 2017. That execution has also been delayed and rescheduled for July 26, 2017. Read more about the ongoing challenges Ohio has faced here.
Ohio has announced that they will use a three-drug execution process for Ronald's execution. Midazolam will be used as a sedative, then a paralytic will be administered, followed by potassium chloride to stop the heart.
Ronald, along with two other death row inmates scheduled to be executed, have asked the Supreme Court of the United States to stay their executions while they continue to challenge Ohio's lethal injection protocol. They are arguing that the first drug administered, midazolam, will not fully render them unconscious leading to pain and suffering during the execution. Additionally, Federal Judge Michael Merz has rejected a request for two additional witnesses for the upcoming executions. Lawyers for the death row inmates have asked that two additional witness be permitted to ensure that the execution is carried out in a constitutional manner. The suggested additional witness were a lawyer and a nurse anesthetist. Judge Merz rejected the request noting that there is no evidence that such witnesses would be able to evaluate the inmate's condition from the viewing area and that such witnesses would inherently be viewed as bias since they were selected by the inmate's legal team.
Ronald has also asked the Supreme Court of the United States to halt his execution due to his age at the time of the murder. Ronald was 19 at the time, and is arguing that the minimum age for the death penalty should be raised from 18 to 21.
Please pray for peace for the family of Sheila. Please pray for strength for the family of Ronald. Please pray that if Ronald is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Ronald may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.