COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's governor delayed a condemned child killer's execution on Wednesday to study the feasibility of accommodating the unusual request by a state death row inmate to donate his organs.
Gov. John Kasich's decision came less than 24 hours before Ronald Phillips was scheduled to die for the rape and death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. His lethal injection Thursday was to be the first time a new two-drug combination was tried in the U.S.
In stopping the execution, Kasich said he wanted to allow time to study the request the 40-year-old inmate made Monday to see if a donation could help someone else. Phillips' execution was reset to July 2.
Kasich said that if Phillips is found to be a viable donor to his mother, who has kidney disease and is on dialysis, or to others awaiting live transplants of non-vital organs, the stay would allow time for those procedures to be performed and for Phillips to be returned to death row.
Kasich said that while Phillips' crime was heinous, his willingness to donate organs and tissue could save another life and the state should try to accommodate a donation.
Phillips also wants to donate his heart to his sister, who suffers from a heart ailment.
"I realize this is a bit of uncharted territory for Ohio, but if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues then we should allow for that to happen," Kasich said in a statement.
Some 3,500 people in Ohio and more than 120,000 nationally are currently awaiting organ donations, said Marilyn Pongonis, a spokeswoman for the Lifeline of Ohio organ donation program.
Ohio's prison medical policy accommodates requests for organ donations. Prison officials said in rejecting Phillips' request Tuesday that he had not chosen to invoke it before Monday, leaving a narrow window that raised significant logistical and security concerns.