Ronald Phillips is slated to be executed by the state of Ohio next Wednesday, July 26. It would be the state's first execution in three years after a series of legal and governmental delays after the last execution, of Dennis McGuire, during which the state used an untested cocktail of drugs, including midazolam, and which led to what witnesses described as
gasping and choking during the 26 minutes it took McGuire to die.
A federal judge in January declared the use of midazolam unconstitutional
, but a federal appeals court ruled 8-6 last month that Ohio can use the sedative in the process. Lawyers for Phillips, who was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in 1993, have asked the Supreme Court to delay the execution, noting that the divided ruling proves more debate is needed on the matter.
"What is happening in Ohio is a matter of great concern everywhere," attorney Mark Haddad said in a statement to Cleveland.com
. "The record in the Ohio prisoners' case firmly establishes an intolerable risk of resuming executions under the midazolam three-drug protocol."
Coalitions and advocacy groups, including former Death Row inmates who have since been exonerated, have pressed Ohio Governor John Kasich to postpone the execution. There are larger legal and moral issues at play here, to be sure, but as retired 2nd District Court of Appeals Judge James Brogan told the Dayton Daily News, the very idea that Ohio plans on resuming executions when a state Supreme Court task force's extensive recommendations on the use of the death penalty
have been largely ignored is "troubling."
Kasich, for his part, hasn't acceded to pressure to delay Phillips's death, but the Associated Press and Dayton Daily News report that Kasich will skip the opening of next week's state fair to monitor the developments at what is charmingly referred to as the Death House.