July 26, 2017 / 9:09 AM / 10 months ago

Ohio set to execute man after delays over lethal injection drugs

(Reuters) - Ohio will put to death on Wednesday a 43-year-old man convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old child in what will be the state’s first execution in more than three years after a lengthy legal dispute over the choice of lethal injection drugs.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction photo shows death row inmate Ronald Phillips, incarcerated at Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio, U.S. since 1993. Courtesy Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction/Handout via REUTERS

Ronald Phillips is scheduled to be executed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, at 10 a.m. local time, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied appeals from Phillips on Tuesday.

Phillips’ execution and two others in Ohio scheduled to take place in September and October have been delayed multiple times as a court fight plays out over the state’s use of a drug mixture for lethal injections.

Phillips’ execution is the second scheduled for this week in the United States. Texas plans to execute TaiChin Preyor, 46, on Thursday for killing a woman in a 2004 home robbery near San Antonio. There have been 14 executions in the United States so far this year.

Phillips was dating Fae Evans, the mother of 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, in January 1993 when she left her daughter with Phillips in her apartment, according to court documents.

Fae Evans returned home to find the child motionless and cold. Sheila Marie Evans was brought to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery but died.

Doctors performed an autopsy and found extensive bruising as well as internal trauma, according to court documents.

Phillips confessed that he had become enraged when the girl would not respond to him calling her for breakfast, court documents showed.

He beat and then sexually assaulted the toddler. Phillips also admitted to previously raping the girl twice, according to court documents.

Ohio’s last execution took place in January 2014, when it became the first state to use a combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone to execute Dennis McGuire. [nL1N1EE1SJ]

McGuire’s execution took 25 minutes and witnesses said he gasped and convulsed for 15 minutes.

Ohio implemented a moratorium in 2015 due to difficulty in obtaining drugs needed to perform lethal injections. The following year the state said it would restart executions using a new lethal injection protocol.

A federal court ruled in January 2017 that Ohio’s new lethal injection process was problematic, delaying executions.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in April, but that ruling was overturned in June by the full appeals court. [nL1N1JP1M0]

Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Ben Klayman, Toni Reinhold

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