Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ohio's First Execution in Three Years Set for Wednesday; Last-Minute Legal Actions Under Way for Ronald Phillips

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 4:04 PM

click to enlarge 8c9560783-131101-ronald-phillips-1040a.nbcnews-ux-600-700.jpg
Barring an intervention from U.S. Supreme Court, Ronald Phillips will be executed tomorrow. His will be the first lethal injection by the state of Ohio since 2014.

That execution, in which the state killed Dennis McGuire, did not go smoothly. McGuire gasped and snorted audibly and took more than 15 minutes to die once the drugs were injected. One of those drugs was midazolam, a sedative that Ohio had not previously used. The drug's efficacy is questionable in lethal injection scenarios, and its uncertain effects have botched executions in other states as well, including Arizona, Oklahoma and Alabama.

Since then, the state has been fighting for its right to use midazolam. A recent trend has seen pharmaceutical companies become very reluctant to allow their sedative drugs to be used in state executions; midazolam remains a simple solution for states that still pursue the death penalty. On the other side, a federal judge in the southern district of Ohio ruled earlier this year that the drug produces an unconstitutional level of cruel punishment and pain (citing the Eighth Amendment).



In June, a federal appeals court reversed the decision and granted Ohio its right to use midazolam as part of a three-drug protocol to execute prisoners. "The Constitution does not guarantee ‘a pain-free execution,'" Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote.

The state of Ohio also spent the early part of 2017 busying itself in an attempt to obtain a drug that would reverse the effects of a lethal injection — in the event that the process goes wrong.

Against that backdrop, Phillips' execution date has come and gone before. He is now set to die on July 26. Death penalty observers will be watching closely. (Gov. John Kasich will be present for the execution too.) Phillips was convicted in 1993 of raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.

With all signs point to the execution taking place, a series of legal filings is dropping into the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorneys have again filed for an application for a stay and a petition for a writ of certiorari. (See below.)

And 15 prominent professors of pharmacology filed an amicus curiae brief at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, delving deep into the troubling properties of midazolam.

"Midazolam is incapable of rendering an inmate unconscious prior to the injection of the second and third drugs in the State of Ohio’s lethal injection protocol," the professors insist. "Therefore, midazolam is not appropriate for its intended purpose as the first drug in the State of Ohio’s three-drug lethal injection protocol."

(Update, Tuesday night: The U.S. Supreme Court denied Phillips' application for a stay and his petition for writ of certiorari.)




We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation