Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson was a witness as Ohio put Ronald Phillips to death Wednesday -- a role he's filled 20 times before.

Ronald Phillips of Akron was put to death July 26 for the murder of a 3-year-old girl. It was the first state-sponsored execution in Ohio in more than three years.

Alan Johnson of the Dispatch wrote about Phillips' death, just as he's reported on the state's most severe form of punishment ever since Ohio reinstated the death penalty in 1999.

No reporter in Ohio has witnessed more men be put to death. Last August, Alan wrote a feature for Columbus Monthly about that most unique role as a journalist. 

Read the compelling "These Eyes Have Watched 20 Men Die" -- which now should read "21." And it just might have been his last, as Johnson plans to retire from the Dispatch in September, after more than 33 years on the job. "Being a witness to death is an important job and the media should always be present," Johnson wrote. "But I won't mind if someone else is watching."