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Amazing how big, bad killers fear the needle
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Ronald Phillips fears needles.

You should fear Ronald Phillips.

Phillips earned himself a spot on Ohio’s death row. His date with death is Nov. 14.

He got there by raping and killing Sheila Marie Evans. He doesn’t argue that he’s innocent. Far from it.

Sheila was his girlfriend’s daughter. Her 3-year-old daughter.

You need to hear the broad details of what he confessed to doing as a 19-year-old.

He admitted to raping the girl twice but contended he did not do so on the day he killed her. That’s an important detail under Ohio law. Back on Jan. 18, 1993, Ohio law was clear: The only way Phillips could be put to death for killing the little girl is if he raped her the same day as well.

His defense was simple. He admitted to two earlier rapes that he couldn’t deny due to the physical evidence. The day he brutally beat the 3-year-old to death he said he didn’t rape her. He told police he just penetrated the little girl’s anus with his hand.

The jury didn’t buy his attempt at hair-splitting rational as to why he wasn’t depraved enough to be put to death in Ohio’s electric chair.

A few things have changed since then. Electric chairs are now considered cruel-and-unusual punishment. They have been replaced with lethal injection.

Phillips says getting poked with a needle is cruel-and-unusual punishment.

One mustn’t scare or cause pain for a grown man who admitted his lust and total disregard for human life in the torturing and killing of an innocent 3-year-old.

It’s rich. An adult who inflicts the ultimate cruel-and-unusual punishment on a kid believes he should be protected from experiencing the same.

But wait, is it the same?

Even if things don’t go according to plan, it will be over in less than 20 minutes for Phillips. Yes, it may involve some painful poking and not fading in a blink. But it certainly wouldn’t involve not one, not two, but four sustained attacks on his person involving being raped and beaten to death.

Phillips tried to avoid death on Oct. 18. At that hearing he said he did all the things he did because he was verbally abused and raped by his father as a child. How convenient. Phillips never brought that up prior to the hearing before the clemency board. He also waited until his dad passed away to make such a claim.

Perhaps it is true. Perhaps it isn’t. But there are a lot of people who are sexually abused and verbally tortured growing up who don’t rape and kill kids as adults.

Phillips earlier this week was seen in court via video. This time his attorneys are arguing Phillips should be spared because a prison doctor couldn’t find veins in his arms. Perhaps if the doctor had looked closer he may not have found a heart or a soul either, but that’s a different story.

On the video, Phillips said he has feared needles since his childhood. That’s when his parents sold drugs and let junkies shoot up in their Akron kitchen.

As to why the doctor and prison nurse couldn’t find any veins, Phillips said, “I guess the Lord hid my veins from them.”

Too bad the Lord didn’t hide Sheila from Phillips.

The entire argument against lethal injection, whether it is in Ohio or in California, is surreal at best.

Why not just put the condemned under as if they are a surgical patient? Knock them out first. Then administer the lethal injection. After two hernia surgeries, believe me you don’t feel anything when they are cutting you open after the anesthesiologist has done their job. You only feel it after you wake up. Phillips wouldn’t have that problem.

And even if knocking them out first is out of the question, what’s wrong with a needle poke? I’ve donated platelets 53 times. It is a process that involves sticking a needle in your arm and leaving it in there for almost 180 minutes. Twice the phlebotomy technician inadvertently scrapped the wall of my vein. It hurt. My arm started turning black and blue. But I lived.

Gee, maybe that’s it. This isn’t about pain classified as cruel-and-unusual punishment. If it was, surgeries and white blood cell draws to help cancer patients would be on the radar of attorneys using such arguments to save the likes of convicted child killer Ronald Phillips. After all, how could they pass up staggering legal fees they’d get from such a righteous lawsuit against hospitals and blood banks?

No, this isn’t about whether there is any pain involved in killing an admitted child rapist and killer by lethal injection or even the old-fashioned way strapped to an electric chair.

It’s about whether the state should put down a convicted and self-admitted child killer and child rapist much as they would a rabid dog.

You’ve got to love the process.

We spend more time trying to protect the “sacred lives” of convicted killers than we do trying to prevent more victims.

It’s weird. The Ronald Phillipses of the world have the right not to be forced into mental health service programs, have the right not to be profiled, and have the right not to die. Meanwhile, the only right a 3-year-old apparently has is to be used, abused, and killed.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.