In an interesting twist, both prosecutors and defense attorneys are asking the Ohio Parole Board to spare the life of a convicted killer who stabbed his neighbor 17 times. The sides are making the appeal for clemency because of Billy Slagle’s age at the time of the killing and because he had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Newly elected Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty has decided to look at both old and new death penalty cases in a fresh light and one of the aspects he wants to examine is whether a death sentence could be obtained today, according to assistant prosecutor Matthew Meyer.
"The fact that the prosecutorial team does not feel confident that under today's guidelines and today's laws that we can achieve death, we will not come before the board and the victims and say that death is how case should end up," Meyer told the board.
Defense attorney Joe Wilhelm told the board that his client’s brain was ruined by drug and alcohol abuse at the time of the crime and asked that Slagle's death sentence be commuted to life without parole. "Billy was exposed to alcohol from the womb to the crime," Wilhelm said.
Slagle is convicted of killing Mari Anne Pope while two young children were watching. The crime occurred in 1986 when he was 18, the minimum age for execution in Ohio. Slagle is now 44. At the time of his sentencing, life without parole was not an option, so a death sentence was the only option jurors had to make sure Slagle never left prison, USA Today reported.
A similar plea for mercy by Slagle and his lawyers was rejected by the Ohio Parole Board two years ago.