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Ohio death row inmate: Doctor couldn't find veins

02 November 2013, 16:20

Columbus - A prison doctor couldn't find veins in the arms of an Ohio death row inmate during a pre-execution check-up, the inmate said on Friday by video in rare court testimony as he challenges the state's new, never-tried lethal-injection method.

Condemned child killer Ronald Phillips said the doctor could find only a vein on his right hand following an examination on 18 October at the medical centre at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, south of Columbus.

"I guess the Lord hid my veins from them," Phillips said.

Phillips testified as part of a lawsuit brought by his attorneys to delay his execution while they gather evidence against the state's new execution policy, which includes a two-drug injection process.

The Ohio department of rehabilitation and correction announced the new policy last month and said Monday on it would use that process, which involves the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone.

Phillips' attorneys say the department's announcements came too close to the execution date to allow a meaningful challenge. The state says nothing is substantially different about the new system.

Phillips, 40, testified under questioning by his attorneys that the doctor said he wasn't part of the state's lethal-injection process when asked to do the checks. A prison nurse also participated.

Phillips said he had a fear of needles dating from childhood when his parents would sell drugs and let addicts shoot up in their kitchen in a tough neighbourhood of Akron, Ohio.

He testified by video hook-up from the prison where death row is housed for more than an hour. He's scheduled to die on 14 November for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, Sheila Marie Evans, in 1993.

The drugs Ohio is proposing to use on Phillips will cause him to stop breathing within a few minutes, an anaesthesiologist said in a statement on Thursday as part of a filing by the state in support of the new method.

Irreversible brain and heart damage will follow, and the inmate will die a few minutes later, said Dr. Mark Dershwitz, a University of Massachusetts anaesthesiologist.


- AP

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