Just days before his execution, Cleveland man Billy Slagle was found hanged in his cell after fatally stabbing a neighbor during a Cleveland burglary.
According to one of Slagle's attorneys, Vicki Werneke, there had been no warning that Slagle wanted to commit suicide.
Slagle, 44, was found around 5a.m. at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution and was declared dead within the hour. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, though it appears that other prisoners were not involved.
“He was in his cell alone. No other inmates suspected to be involved," Prison spokesperson JoEllen Smith said. "It does appear to be a suicide."
Under standard prison procedure, Slagle would have been put under pre-execution watch Sunday, though his watch had not yet begun.
Slagle was sentenced to prison after breaking into his neighbor’s home and stabbing her 17 times with a pair of scissors. The woman began to pray and then let out a blood-curdling scream when 18-year-old Slagle stabbed her, according to two children who the woman had been babysitting.
One child, who had been so distrubed by the event himself, commited suicide in 2002.
In a rare move, Cleveland prosecutor Tim McGinty had asked the Ohio Parole Board to spare Slagle, though the request was denied. McGinty said that if Slagle had been prosecuted today, a jury would have condemned him to life without parole, but not execution.
Both of Slagle’s attorneys had requested a new trial last week, for which the requirements for new information had been met.
"We were still litigating in court and had hoped that the execution would have been stopped,” Werneke said. “There was an oral argument scheduled for Monday afternoon.”
Attorneys cited his age, for which he was barely eligible for execution in Ohio, and his history with drugs and alcohol as new information.