Why has it taken so many years to put a convicted child rapist and murderer to death?

LUCASVILLE, OH (WOIO) - What happened to Sheila Marie Evans is beyond what you'd expect to see in a horror movie.

The precious 3-year-old girl was sodomized and beaten so severely by her mother's boyfriend that the medical examiner said she died of the internal injuries that Ronald Phillips left behind.

Evans had more than 125 bruises on her body from being hit repeatedly, thrown into walls, and dragged by her hair.

Even worse, prosecutors say Evans' mother did nothing to stop the attack. Fae Evans died of cancer while in prison.

Phillips was sentenced to die for Evans' rape and murder back in 1993, but for more than two decades he's lived on death row.

"If you believe in the death penalty, Phillips is the poster boy for why you want it. He should have been gone a long time ago," said civil rights attorney and expert Avery Friedman. "This is the most extreme part of what the government does. The government wants to commit a homicide to punish someone. The courts, under the Constitution, require a balance. It balances that power against individual constitutional rights, and that's why it has taken so long, because the courts are very careful about the government taking a life."

Through the years, Phillips has been granted a stay of execution a number of times as he worked the appeals process. He claimed, at one point, he wanted to donate his organs to his mother and sister. At another time, Phillips' family argued that Phillips' abuse as a child should have considered during his trial, but the most significant reprieve came after the botched execution of Dennis McGuire back in 2014.

"The government hasn't quite figured out how to kill somebody, and there have been protocols - they are going to use a three drug protocol tomorrow - or at least that's what it looks like - which other states such as Arizona have rejected. The state of Arkansas has used a variation on this protocol, and they have gone forward in killing a number of offenders," added Friedman.

The big question as Phillips is executed will be, according to Friedman, will the drug cocktail that the state will use "result in sustained agony, which the government is not permitted to do?"

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