COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio will use an untried-dose of two drugs to put to death a condemned inmate who raped and killed his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, the state prisons agency said Monday.
A warden determined the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility doesn't have enough pentobarbital, the drug Ohio formerly used until its manufacturer put it off-limits for executions, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said in an email.
Instead, the state will use an intravenous combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, in the Nov. 14 execution of Ronald Phillips of Akron.
Those drugs are included in Ohio's untested backup execution method, which requires them to be injected directly into an inmate's muscle. No state has put a prisoner to death with those drugs in any fashion.
Phillips, 40, was sentenced to death for killing Sheila Marie Evans in 1993 after a long period of abusing her.
Ohio's revamped execution policy calls for it to try to buy specialty batches of pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, which mix individual doses of drugs for specific patients. If that fails, the policy calls for the use of the two-drug approach.
A plan by Georgia to use a similar specialty batch of pentobarbital has been put on hold by a federal lawsuit challenging the state prison agency's refusal to identify the compounding pharmacy that provided the drug.
The lawsuit also questions the drug's safety and effectiveness.
Compounding pharmacies are under increased scrutiny following last year's meningitis outbreak that killed more than 60 people and sickened hundreds and was linked to contaminated ingredients at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
Phillips' lawyers have pushed for mercy for Phillips, arguing he was raped and beaten by his late father as a child and grew up in a chaotic, filthy environment.
The state says Phillips long denied suffering such abuse and raised it only as his execution became imminent.