COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s governor on Wednesday delayed a condemned child killer’s execution to study the feasibility of allowing the man to donate his organs to ailing relatives.
Republican Gov. John Kasich rescheduled 40-year-old Ronald Phillips’ lethal injection to July 2.
Phillips was sentenced to die for raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993, and was scheduled for execution Thursday.
But Kasich said that while Phillips’ crime was heinous, his willingness to donate organs and tissue could save another life and the state “should allow that to happen.”
Phillips had been moved to Ohio’s death house Wednesday, but a prisons spokeswoman said Phillips will be returned to death row to await the assessment’s findings.
With his legal options effectively exhausted, Phillips made what prison officials called an unprecedented request Monday, to donate a kidney and his heart to his ailing mother and sister. Phillips’ mother has kidney disease and his sister has a heart condition, his attorneys said.
Phillips indicated the request was not a delay tactic, but an attempt to make a final gesture for good.
State officials denied the request on Tuesday, saying a host of logistical and security issues made it unworkable. A spokeswoman said the department moved swiftly to evaluate the request but determined it was not equipped to accommodate pre- or post-execution organ donations. An earlier kidney donation may have been possible under prison medical policy, but Phillips never requested one, they said.
The state left it up to Phillips’ family whether the organs will be harvested after his body is turned over to them Thursday. It wasn’t clear whether the organs would still be viable at that point.