Ronald Ray Phillips of Akron has been scheduled by the Ohio Supreme Court to be executed in November 2013 for the rape and aggravated murder of his late girlfriend’s daughter, Sheila Marie Evans, nearly 20 years ago.
It was one of the city’s most notorious and heart-wrenching crimes of the 1990s.
According to Akron Beacon Journal archives of the trial, former Summit County Coroner William Cox testified that the autopsy revealed more than 130 bruises on Sheila Marie’s body.
She was 3 years old when she died of internal injuries at Akron Children’s Hospital on Jan. 18, 1993.
“When you’re talking about the rape and murder of a 3-year-old, that’s about as bad as it gets,” retired Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Michael Carroll said Monday.
Carroll and the late Judith Bandy, two of the most experienced prosecutors in the office at the time, handled the government’s case against Phillips.
“I’ll never forget Dr. Cox testifying as to the number of injuries. They were just unbelievable,” Carroll said.
“As a matter of fact, we almost lost a juror, who nearly passed out, from the [autopsy] photographs that the doctor showed. It was just terrible.”
The high court set Phillips’ execution date for Nov. 13, 2013.
He is 38 and has been confined on death row, in a 6-by-8-foot cell at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, since Sept. 16, 1993, prison records show.
Prison spokesman Carlo LoParo said the execution date was set last week after the high court determined that he had exhausted all of his state appeals.
His late girlfriend, Fae Amanda Evans, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for her involvement.
Evans, who was 41, had been locked up for 15 years at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. She died of cancer on July 8, 2008, at the state prison hospital in Columbus, LoParo said.
Carroll said there were some issues about her direct involvement in the crime, “but what she wasn’t doing,” he said, “was taking care of the child, or preventing any of this from happening.”
Last week, the Death Penalty Information Center of Washington, D.C., reported that Ohio was third in the nation this year with five executions.
Texas was first, with 13, and Alabama, second with six, according to the center’s report.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.