- Associated Press - Sunday, August 4, 2013

CLEVELAND (AP) — A man condemned to death for fatally stabbing a neighbor during a Cleveland burglary was found hanged in his cell Sunday just days before his Wednesday execution.

Billy Slagle, 44, was found at about 5 a.m. at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution south of Columbus and was declared dead within the hour, prison spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

“He was in his cell alone. No other inmates suspected to be involved,” Smith said in an email. “It does appear to be a suicide.”

Under regular prison policy, he was scheduled to be placed under pre-execution watch Sunday morning but “was not yet placed under constant watch,” Smith said.

Slagle was sentenced to die for the 1987 stabbing of Mari Anne Pope, who was killed while two young children she was watching were in the house.

In a rare move, the prosecutor in Cleveland asked the Ohio Parole Board to spare Slagle. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said jurors today, with the option of life without parole, would be unlikely to sentence Slagle to death.

The parole board and Gov. John Kasich both rejected mercy for Slagle.

Last week, Slagle’s attorney argued that a jury never got the chance to hear the full details of his troubled childhood.

The attorneys, arguing for a new trial and to delay his execution, said that information met requirements for asking for a new trial, which normally must happen within four months of a conviction.

Slagle was “unavoidably prevented” from filing his request because his original attorneys didn’t develop and present the evidence, the filing said.

McGinty and Slagle’s attorneys had cited his age — at 18, he was barely old enough for execution in Ohio — and his history of alcohol and drug addiction.


Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report

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