Ohio Readies For Execution Of Akron Man, First In More Than Three Years

Ronald Phillips, an Ohio inmate on death row since 1993, is set to face his sentence July 26. His death would be the first Ohio execution in more than three years.

Phillips was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron over 20 years ago. This is his third execution date of 2017, as the state has continued to postpone the execution amid ongoing litigation.

Previous attempts were delayed by a federal judge's ruling that deemed the Ohio lethal injection drug too risky. This drug midazolam caused problems in other executions in Ohio, Arizona and Arkansas, where inmates appeared to be gasping for breath and suffering for over 20 minutes before dying.

However, last month a federal appeals court approved Ohio's use of the sedative midazolam in an 8-6 ruling. The court argued that attorneys representing death row inmates failed to prove that the drug causes serious pain. Even so, Phillips' attorney Tim Sweeney intends to fight the sentence.

"We're going to continue to fight as vigorously as we can to see that this execution does not go forward," Sweeney told the Associated Press.