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Ohio gov rejects clemency for child killer

Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday rejected mercy for the first inmate scheduled for execution next year under a new process for putting condemned prisoners to death.

The governor also delayed the execution of Ronald Phillips one month following a federal judge’s order last week that temporarily shelved executions.

Phillips is now scheduled for execution on Feb. 15. He would be the first inmate put to death in Ohio in three years. Phillips was sentenced to die for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.

Kasich’s decision was expected; he rejected mercy for Phillips three years ago, and the Ohio Parole Board recently recommended against clemency.

“Given the extremely brutal nature of the offense committed against an innocent 3-year-old child, I agree with the Ohio Parole Board’s recommendation that clemency is not warranted in this case,” the governor said in a statement.

Kasich also granted a short reprieve to death row inmate Raymond Tibbetts, scheduled to die in February but now set for April 12.

Tibbetts’ lawyers declined comment. A message was left with attorneys for Phillips, who had asked that he be spared. They call the case tragic but argue that Phillips is not among the worst of the worst offenders.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh has said that Phillips refuses to accept responsibility and it’s time for justice to be served.

A federal magistrate issued the delay last week amid a challenge of a state law that shields details about the lethal injection drugs the Ohio prisons agency plans to use.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to execute Phillips and two other inmates with a three-drug combination that’s similar to a method it used several years ago.