Condemned Ohio child killer wants to donate organs

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Associated Press

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 3:35 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned child killer who has abandoned his remaining appeals asked Monday for the chance to donate his organs to his ailing mother and sister either before or after his execution this week.

The request by Ronald Phillips to donate a kidney and his heart is not a delay tactic, but rather an attempt to make a final gesture for good, according to his public defender.

"It is our sincere hope that the state of Ohio will do the right thing to ensure that as many people as possible will benefit from the gift of life that Ron is so generously willing to bestow as his own life approaches its end," attorney Lisa Lagos said in an interview.

Ohio prisons agency spokeswoman JoEllen Smith declined to comment.

Phillips would also be willing to donate organs to other individuals if it's not possible to help his relatives, his attorneys said in a Monday letter to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

"Ron is making this generous request without any conditions or expectations," according to the letter obtained by The Associated Press.

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 last week rejected Phillips' request for mercy, and Lagos said Phillips has dropped all his appeals.

The 40-year-old man is scheduled to die Thursday by an untried injection of a sedative and painkiller that has never been used in a U.S. execution.

Phillips' mother has kidney disease and is on dialysis and his sister has a heart condition, the letter said.

Phillips' lawyers note Ohio has stopped using two drugs that damaged an inmate's organs — one a paralyzing agent, the other a drug that stops the heart.

On Thursday, Ohio plans to use midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. It was not immediately clear Monday what effect those might have on organs.

An Ohio State surgeon who has closely studied lethal injection says donated organs typically come from people who are brain dead but still have heart beats and are breathing with the help of a respirator. Phillips would not fit this category, said Dr. Jonathan Groner in an email.

In 1995, Delaware death row inmate Steven Shelton was allowed to donate a kidney to his mother while in prison, though he was not facing imminent execution. Following successful appeals, his death sentence was reversed and he was resentenced to prison time in 2011.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus

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