A death row inmate was found hanged in his cell just three days before he was scheduled for execution. The inmate, Billy Slagle, was found dead just after 5 am on Sunday at Ohio’s Chillicothe Correctional Institution.
Slagle has been on death row since 1988 when he was convicted of murder for stabbing a neighbor to death in her house. All of his appeals were exhausted and Governor John Kasich denied his petition for clemency on July 24.
In seeking clemency, CNN reports that Slagle’s lawyers argued that he spent his teenage years largely unsupervised and came from a home with a history of alcoholism.
But their petition to reduce his sentence to life in prison without parole was denied. Jo Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Corerctions explained that the death row inmate was found hanging in his cell in solitary confinement. He was pronounced dead an hour later.
Slagle was 18 when he killed Mari Anne Pope by stabbing her 17 times with a pair of scissors, notes Yahoo! News. Her children were in the home at the time of her death. His petition for clemency also had the support of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.
McGinty explained that, while there was no doubt Slagle was guilty, jurors didn’t have the option at the time to consider a sentence of life in prison. He added that prosecutors likely wouldn’t seek the death penalty if the case were to be tried today.
Slagle spent 24 years on death row. He was due to be transferred from Chillicothe to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Once there, he was slated for execution on Tuesday.
Ohio has executed 51 inmates since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976. The state also has more than 140 prisoners currently on death row. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday on the death row inmate found hanging to determine his cause of death.
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