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Ronald Phillips Executed After Prolonged Legal Fight

Ronald Phillips
Ronald Phillips has been in prison since 1993, when he was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter.

Ohio has put to death a child killer in the state's first execution in more than three years, following a prolonged search for - and legal fight over - lethal drugs.

Ronald Phillips, 43, was executed Wednesday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville. According to witnesses, Phillips was calm with no signs of struggle.

Phillips was convicted of the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans.

"To the Evans family, I'm sorry you had to live so long with my evil actions," Phillips said in his final statement. "All those years I prayed you'd forgive me and find it in your heart to forgive me and have mercy on me."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday night denied his request for a stay to continue his legal appeals.

Phillips and other death row inmates have challenged the state's new three-drug execution method, which includes a sedative used in some problematic executions in Ohio and elsewhere. Ohio last executed an inmate, Dennis McGuire, in January 2014.

The court also declined a request for a stay based on Phillips’ age at the time of the killing. He was 19, older than the state’s minimum age of 18, but his attorneys said the cut-off age should be 21.

Phillips' attorneys call the case tragic, but say he wasn't one of the worst offenders. 

The county prosecutor said it was time for justice to be served.