Ohio puts child killer to death in 1st execution in 3 years
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
LUCASVILLE — Ohio put a child killer to death Wednesday July 26, carrying out the state’s first execution after a 3½-year delay and signaling the possible resumption of capital punishment in the state.
Ronald Phillips was executed by lethal injection without any of the complications that marred the state’s last execution and caused the governor to pause scheduled executions.
Phillips was sentenced to die for the 1993 rape and killing of Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.
His chin and chest moved slightly and he breathed heavily while the lethal drugs were administered. Prison officials gave Phillips’ time of death as 10:43 a.m., about 10 minutes after he gave his final statement, saying, “Sheila Marie didn’t deserve what I did to her.”
He apologized to the girl’s family, telling them: “I’m sorry you had to live so long with my actions.”
The girl’s half sister said it was the first apology they had heard from Phillips.
Sheila Marie’s aunt, Donna Hudson, said: “Finally, after 24½ years, she can rest in peace.”
Phillips, 43, seemed resigned at the end, looking up the ceiling and closing his eyes at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
The execution was delayed for a few minutes so that Phillips could meet with his brother. Earlier, he had spent much of the morning praying, kneeling and reading the Bible. He became emotional with his spiritual adviser and a visiting friend, said JoEllen Smith, a prisons department spokeswoman.
Phillips lost his final appeal when the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied his requests for more time to pursue legal arguments, including a challenge of the state’s new three-drug execution method, which includes a sedative used in some problematic executions in Ohio and elsewhere.
He also argued that his age at the time — he was 19 — should have been a consideration for mercy. The nation’s high court has banned the execution of people under 18.
The death penalty had been on hold in Ohio since January 2014, when a condemned inmate repeatedly gasped and snorted during a 26-minute procedure with a never-before-tried drug combination.
Republican Gov. John Kasich halted upcoming executions after that, and delays have continued because the state had trouble finding new supplies of drugs and death row inmates sued on the grounds the state’s proposed new three-drug execution method represented “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The state announced in October it acquired a new supply. Phillips and other death row inmates unsuccessfully fought the state’s new execution method that includes a sedative, midazolam, used in some troubled executions in Ohio, Arkansas and Arizona. The other drugs are rocuronium bromide, which paralyzes inmates, and potassium chloride, which stops their hearts.
The inmates’ arguments were backed up by 15 pharmacology professors, who said midazolam is incapable of inducing unconsciousness or preventing serious pain.
Phillips’ execution was previously scheduled and delayed several times, including in 2013 when Kasich allowed time for a last-minute request by Phillips to donate organs. The request was ultimately denied. Phillips wanted to donate a kidney to his mother, who was on dialysis, and possibly his heart to his sister. His mother has since died.
Phillips killed Sheila Marie on Jan. 18, 1993. She died following emergency surgery after she was rushed to an Akron hospital when her mother came home and found her motionless on her bed, according to a 2016 parole board document.
An autopsy the following day revealed more than 125 bruises on the girl indicating she’d been severely beaten on the head, face, lower torso, arms, legs and genitalia.
Phillips told police he repeatedly hit the girl after she didn’t respond to his calls for breakfast, the parole board document said. Phillips also admitted raping her that day and two previous times, the document said.
The girl’s mother was sentenced to a maximum of 30 years for child endangering and involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors said she knew of her daughter’s earlier injuries and beatings and didn’t protect her. Fae Evans died in prison of cancer in 2008.
Last year, the Ohio Parole Board voted against recommending mercy for Phillips, turning down arguments that he was the product of a horrific upbringing and that his trial was marked by legal mistakes.
The parole board called the killing “among the worst of the worst.”
Phillips’ attorneys said Wednesday that he became a different person in prison and that no one is beyond redemption.
“He had grown to be a good man, who was thoughtful, caring, compassionate, remorseful and reflective,” said attorneys Tim Sweeney and Lisa Lagos. “He tried every day to atone for his shameful role in Sheila’s death.”
The execution was the 15th in the U.S. this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
4-year-old pulled from Alum Creek has died
By Chad Conant
A 4-year-old girl pulled Alum Creek recently has died. The girl was taken from the water shortly and rushed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital Lewis Center before being flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital near downtown Columbus. Officers found her in the water when they were called to Alum Creek Beach about a missing child.
Governor Kasich signs Judy’s Law
By NBC4 Staff
COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Governor Kasich signed Judy’s Law into law, increasing penalties when an accelerant is used to disfigure a person.
Judy’s Law is named for Judy Malinowski, the Gahanna woman who was hospitalized for nearly two years after she was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend. Judy died in June, nearly 700 days after it happened.
The law extends the sentence by six years for cases like hers where an accelerant like gas is used.
The law passed the legislature by a unanimous vote.
Now that it has been signed by Governor Kasich, the law takes effect in 90 days.
“I’m just amazed because Judy just said I just want to help one or two people mom and this suffering will be worth it. I’ll suffer as long as it takes if it will just help one person,” said Jody’s mother, Bonnie Bowes, after the Senate passed the bill.
The Franklin County Prosecutor says his office is taking necessary steps to pursue aggravated murder charges against Judy’s attacker.
COLUMBUS — Legislation inspired by a woman who was set on fire by her ex-boyfriend has unanimously passed the Ohio Senate the day after her death was announced.
The bill, named “Judy’s Law,” would require six additional years in prison for crimes that permanently maim or disfigure victims.
The Senate passed the bill Wednesday (June 28) after holding a moment of silence for 33-year-old Judy Malinowski. It now heads to Republican Gov. John Kasich for his signature.
Malinowski, of Gahanna, was hospitalized for nearly two years after Michael Slager doused her in gasoline and set her on fire in August 2015. Slager was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of charges including aggravated arson and felonious assault.
Prosecutors say they now plan to file murder charges against him following Malinowski’s death.
The bill was introduced by State Representative Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington).
“Judy’s attacker gave her a life sentence and received only 11 years in prison. Her story makes it clear that there is a need for a change in Ohio law,” said Rep. Hughes.
Marsy’s Law for Ohio Qualifies for General Election Ballot
COLUMBUS – Marsy’s Law for Ohio, the crime victims’ bill of rights constitutional amendment, will be on the fall 2017 statewide ballot, according to the Ohio Secretary of State.
Ohio election officials today announced the victims’ rights campaign collected 371,749 valid signatures from 54 counties. Ohio law requires constitutional amendments submit 305,591 signatures from at least 44 counties to qualify for the general election ballot.
“Today, we move closer to making equal rights for crime victims a reality in Ohio,” said Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, founder of Marsy’s Law for All. “We are excited that Ohioans will be able to vote on placing basic, enforceable rights for victims of crime into the state constitution.”
Under the Marsy’s Law for Ohio amendment, crime victims would have the right to notification of all proceedings as well as be guaranteed the right to be heard at every step of the process. Victims would have the right to have input on all plea deals for offenders as well as the right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime.
As signatures were gathered from citizens in all 88 counties, the Marsy’s Law for Ohio movement gained a wave of support from elected officials, law-enforcement officers and crime victim advocacy groups.
The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983, when Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in California. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just visited Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail.
Following his sister’s murder, Dr. Nicholas has dedicated himself to giving victims and their families across the country constitutional protections and equal rights. Dr. Nicholas, who is a native of Cincinnati, is funding the effort in Ohio.
Secretary Husted Certifies Signatures for Marsy’s Law Effort
Advocates seeking to place constitutional amendment on November ballot
COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today certified that Marsy’s Law proponents have met the necessary requirements to place their proposed constitutional amendment, titled the “Ohio Crime Victims Bill of Rights,” on the November 2017 General Election Ballot.
Petitioners were required to submit at least 305,591 valid signatures, a number equal to 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014. The petitioners of Marsy’s Law satisfied this requirement through the submission of 371,749 valid signatures statewide.
As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners are also required to have submitted signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, collected enough signatures equal to five percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014. The petitioners met this requirement, having collected enough signatures to meet the five percent threshold in 54 counties.
Having met the constitutional and legal requirements to place the matter before Ohio voters, the issue will appear on the ballot during the General Election held on November 7, 2017. The next step in the process is for the Ballot Board to convene to approve the ballot language that voters will consider this fall.
It is the constitutional and statutory duty of the Secretary of State to verify and certify signatures submitted for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments, initiated statutes and legislative referenda.
MVNU Celebrates the Life of Larry Houck
MOUNT VERNON — Former religion professor Dr. Larry Houck, 70, passed away on Saturday, July 22, 2017, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He served in many roles at Mount Vernon Nazarene University from 2000-2010.
Larry was born on Oct. 8, 1946, in Bellefonte, Penn., to the late James and Pauline Houck. He was a 1970 graduate of God’s Bible College in Cincinnati, Ohio; a 1977 graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., where he earned a Master of Divinity degree; and a 1989 graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary where he earned a Doctorate of Ministry.
Larry pastored many churches in Erie, New Castle, and Oil City, Penn., as well as Wesley Chapel United Methodist in Danville, Ohio. He taught in the religion department at Greenville College in Greenville, Ill., for six years, and at MVNU for 10 years. He was also involved in missions in Indonesia for two years and in the Philippines for two years. Larry was the World Missions Director of the Free Methodist Church for six years.
While at MVNU, Larry taught many undergraduate and non-traditional religion courses and held other duties such as Coordinator of the Church Ministries program, Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department, Director of the Nazarene Ministerial Scholarship Program, Director of Enrollment Services for EXCELL, and more.
“Rev. Dr. Larry Houck was a very well educated, experienced and compassionate faculty member. His colleagues loved and appreciated him and the students knew him to be a mentor who cared deeply about them as persons, but also as ministry students preparing for professional ministry. Larry was always willing to try new challenges and met those challenges with grace and strength,” said Rev. Dr. C. Jeanne Serrão, Dean of the School of Theology and Philosophy at MVNU.
In 2015, Larry wrote a book titled “Spiritual Formation: The Joy of the Journey” published by WestBowPress. He was also a member of the North Central Ohio District of the Church of the Nazarene for the last 12 years.
Larry was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his wife Sharon (Hughes) Houck; his son, Michael James Houck; two brothers, James (Juanita) Houck, Randy Houck; his sister, Linda Ziman; and his aunt, Joan Houck.
Friends may call on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, from 6-8 p.m., at the Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home. A service will be held at the Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday beginning at 11 a.m. with Pastor Ray LaSalle officiating. Burial will follow in Mount Vernon Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of Knox County.
To send the family a condolence online visit snyderfuneralhomes.com
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 28 states and 17 countries/U.S. territories.
Rep. Regula recently dies
Former Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, who was elected to 18 terms in the U.S. House and was a key player in creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, died Wednesday, his son said. He was 92.
Regula represented Canton and northeastern Ohio for 36 years before retiring in 2008. At the time he was dean of Ohio’s congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee.
His moderate views on federal spending and social programs sometimes put him at odds with conservatives in party leadership during his later years in office. He wasn’t afraid to go against his own party on trade and increasing the minimum wage.
“He was as non-partisan as they come,” said his son, Richard Regula. “His goal was to take care of the people.”
Regula pushed for acquiring the properties that now make up the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron in northeastern Ohio and helped pass new user fees for national parks to provide money to improve facilities.
Regula and his wife, Mary, also were instrumental in establishing the National First Ladies Library in Canton, which opened in 1998 and later became a national historical site.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said Regula was kind, effective and “always delivered” for Ohio by putting the state ahead of Washington politics.
“Without Ralph, there would be no Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without Ralph and Mary, there would be no First Ladies Historic Site in Canton. Those are just two bookends on an incredible life dedicated to public service,” Brown said.
Throughout his career, he blocked legislation to change the name of North America’s tallest peak from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali. Regula felt it was important to honor President William McKinley who was from Canton.