COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is moving forward with preparations for the execution of a condemned child killer after denying the man's last-minute request to donate organs to his ailing mother and sister before he dies.
Required security precautions in the days leading up to Thursday's execution were among reasons that prisons officials cited in rejecting 40-year-old Ronald Phillips' request this week to give a kidney and his heart to family members.
Phillips has said through his attorneys that the request was not a delay tactic, but rather an attempt to make a final gesture for good.
Prison officials scrambled to review Phillips' request, which they called unprecedented, but ultimately could not figure out a way to accommodate it, according to a letter sent Tuesday. Moving Phillips to and from an offsite hospital was among issues that would pose significant security risks so close to his scheduled death.
Phillips is scheduled to die by an injection of a sedative and painkiller that has never been used in a U.S. execution.
The prisons department is leaving it up to Phillips' family whether his organs are harvested after his death — though it is unclear whether they would be viable when Phillips' body is turned over to his family.
Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the prisons department "has reviewed the options and has determined that the department is not equipped to facilitate organ donation pre- or post-execution." Prisons officials consider the matter to be private among Phillips, his family and his attorneys, she said.
Another factor in the department's decision was the fact that Phillips had never requested to donate his organs earlier, despite the option being available under prison medical policy.
Phillips was sentenced to die for the rape and death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected his request for mercy last week and all his appeals have been dropped.
Tim Sweeney, his Cleveland attorney, said Phillips didn't propose donating his organs earlier because he was hopeful his case would go another way.
"He's been very reflective and prayerful over the last several weeks. I think he was very hopeful that he was going to be granted clemency and/or get relief from the court, so this never really had to come to a head," Sweeney said. "The disappointment on those fronts made this obviously more relevant."
His lawyers told the state that Phillips' mother has kidney disease and is on dialysis and his sister has a heart condition.