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Death Row Inmate Hangs Himself Before Mitigating Evidence is Revealed by Prosecutor

English: The Great Seal of Ohio.

English: The Great Seal of Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early Sunday morning, Billy Slagle was found hanged in his cell, just days before he was scheduled to be executed.

Late Friday afternoon, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor contacted Slagle’s attorneys to inform them of an important, newly discovered fact in the twenty-six-year-old case: at the time of his trial, prosecutors had offered Slagle a plea deal, but his lawyers never disclosed to him that a deal was offered.

“This is the kind of mistake that reverses death sentences. Why this never came to light is a mystery,” said Vicki Werneke, one of Slagle’s attorneys at the Ohio Federal Public Defender Capital Habeas Unit.  “When we were contacted by Prosecutor McGinty and told about the undisclosed plea deal, we were optimistic  Billy would have his sentence changed by the courts.”

In July, before this new evidence was known, the Ohio parole board narrowly voted to allow Slagle’s execution. Governor John Kasich made his decision to deny clemency on the same incomplete information.

In 2012, Gov. Kasich granted clemency to John Eley because the original prosecutor had offered a plea deal.

Ohioans to Stop Executions is calling on Gov. Kasich to issue a moratorium on executions. To find out more, click here.

To read Vicki Werneke’s essay on the Slagle case, “Loss of Hope”, click here.

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