Ohio execution: Man spent final night writing letters, reading bible, praying

LUCASVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Ronald Phillips, the man convicted for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, was executed Wednesday morning by lethal injection. His execution was Ohio's first in more than three years.

Officials say Phillips entered the chamber at 10:20 a.m. Shortly after, the curtain between the viewing area and the death chamber was drawn. His time of death was pronounced at 10:43 a.m.

According to a prisons department spokeswoman, Phillips arrived to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville early Tuesday morning, approximately 24 hours before his scheduled execution. He spent his final night writing letters, reading the bible, and praying.

After a round of appeals from Phillips to delay, the U.S Supreme Court gave approval on Tuesday night for the execution of the child killer to proceed. Phillips was appealing for a delay in his execution because of Ohio's lethal-injection method, which at times, has failed and proven to be problematic during executions in several other states.

Phillips was convicted in Summit County and sentenced to death for raping and murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans. Sheila Marie's relatives witnessed the execution and say they've been waiting twenty-four years for this day.

"There was no doubt in anyone's mind that this man did what he did," said Renee Mundell, Sheila Marie's half-sister.

Family members said Wednesday, on his deathbed, was the first time Phillips showed any remorse.

According to court documents, the young girl was found lying cold and motionless on her bed on Jan 18, 1993. Akron paramedics arrived after her mother called 911. Young Sheila was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery and pronounced dead by doctors at Children's Hospital in Akron. Her torso was covered in bruises, air and blood was found in her abdomen, and signs of extreme sexual abuse was evident.

Phillips, who was 19-years-old at the time, was questioned by police after the girl's death. He initially admitted to spanking her and claimed that Sheila fell on a railroad spike and the corner of her bed in the past, which he said is why it looks like she was sexually assaulted. Phillips eventually confessed to physically and sexually assaulting Sheila and was arrested after providing his statement to police.

Here's who will witness the Ronald Phillips execution

Phillips' execution has been delayed several times before.

In 2013, his death was put on hold after he made a last-minute request to donate his kidney to his mother, who was on dialysis. That request was ultimately denied. He also appealed his execution stating that he was a teenager at the time of the crime "with such obvious psychosocial deficits," blaming his youth as the reason for his behaviors.

Executions in Ohio have been put on hold since January 2014 due to concerns about the drug's potency and because of several botched lethal injections in Ohio. Several pharmacology professors believe that the sedative midazolam, which will be used during Phillips' execution, is not strong enough for lethal injections.

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