IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Ohio child killer moves closer to execution by untested method

Ronald Phillips, 40, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 14 in Ohio.
Ronald Phillips, 40, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 14 in Ohio.Ohio Department of Rehabilitation via AP

Ohio's governor denied a request for executive clemency Thursday after a federal judge refused to block the execution of a child killer who's in line to be the first inmate to get a new, untested lethal drug cocktail.

Ronald Phillips, 40, is due to be put to death Nov. 14 for the 1993 rape and beating death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans. 

The combination of drugs scheduled to be used has never been tried before in a U.S. execution — a circumstance created by a shortage of commonly used pentobarbital.

Gov. John Kasich's decision not to grant clemency came shortly after U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost denied Phillips' motion for a stay of execution in a sharply worded decision scolding the State of Ohio for "time and again" failing to "follow through on its own execution protocol."

"The protocol is constitutional as written and executions are lawful, but the problem has been Ohio's repeated inability to do what it says it will do," wrote Frost, who was nominated to the federal court in 2003 by President George W. Bush.

Ohio is one of several states that have had to tinker with the methods of execution after the European manufacturer of pentobarbital banned its sale to prisons for executions.

State prison officials said they planned to use a combination of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, a morphine derivative.

The two drugs have never been used before in combination, although Florida has used midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug protocol.