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Kasich postpones executions due to lethal injection court battle

By ALAN JOHNSON • Updated May 1, 2017 at 2:18 PM

COLUMBUS — A court battle over lethal injection has forced Gov. John Kasich to again reschedule nine executions, beginning with convicted child killer Ronald Phillips on July 26.

Phillips, who was convicted for the murder of his then-girlfriend's three-year old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans, in 1993, was slated to be put to death May 10.

However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold a hearing June 14 on a lethal injection challenge filed by attorneys for Phillips and other men on death row. A federal judge blocked the execution and the decision was upheld by 2-1 vote of a 6th Circuit panel. Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed, seeking a hearing by the full federal appeals court.

The delays follow a Jan. 26 decision by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz barring the state's use of a three-drug protocol. Merz declared it unconstitutional and blocked the pending executions. He cited problems with executions in other states involving use of midazolam, one of the three drugs in Ohio's protocol, along with rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

Ohio hasn't had an execution since Jan. 16, 2014, when Dennis McGuire choked, gasped and struggled against his restraints for much of the 26 minutes it took for him to die. Midazolam was one of the drugs used to execute McGuire.

Kasich used his executive clemency authority to rescheduled nine inmates, who currently have scheduled executions, as follows:

--Gary Otte moved to Sept. 13, 2017, from June, 13, 2017.

--Raymond Tibbetts moved to Oct. 18, 2017, from July 26, 2017.

--Alva Campbell, Jr. (Franklin County) moved to Nov. 15, 2017, from Sept. 13, 2017.

--William Montgomery moved to Jan. 3, 2018, from Oct. 18, 2017.

--Robert Van Hook moved to Feb. 13, 2018, from Nov. 15, 2017.

--John Stumpf moved to Nov. 14, 2018, from Jan. 3, 2018.

--Warren Henness moved to March 14, 2018, from Feb. 13, 2018.

--Douglas Coley moved to Sept. 18, 2019, from March 14, 2018.

ajohnson@dispatch.com

@ohioaj

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