July 26, 2017
Ronald Phillips was executed by the state of Ohio on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. He was pronounced dead at 10:43 am EDT, inside the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. He was 43 years of age. Ronald was convicted of the murder of 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 had been given numerous previous execution dates, which were all stayed for a variety of reasons, including lawsuits against the state of Ohio regarding its execution protocol following the prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire in 2014. Ronald was the first inmate execution in Ohio since Dennis’ execution and no complications have been reported. Read more about the legal challenges Ohio has faced here.
Please pray for peace for the family of Sheila. Please pray for strength for the family of Ronald.