Ohio Inmate Kills Himself Days Before Execution

Billy Slagle has been on death row since his murder conviction in 1988. He was 18 at the time of the crime. His execution date was set for Tuesday. This morning, he was found hanged in his cell. He was in solitary confinement.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors joined Slagle's family in asking for a reprieve, urging [Gov. John]Kasich to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole -- a sentence the prosecutor's office said had not been available at the time.

Gov. Kasich denied the request on July 24.

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    I'm willing to bet that Kasich's response (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by scribe on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 01:36:04 PM EST
    to this will be along the lines that the inmate, Billy Slagle, committed asymmetric warfare on justice or something similar, e.g. that "he escaped justice".  No doubt there's an Ohio governor out there gnashing his teeth over being denied a kill to tout in his next campaign as evidence of his toughness on crime and a scalp to wave.

    It's a shame the crime happened, a further shame the sentence was given, and a further shame Kasich lacked the probity or good sense to give the inmate life without parole.  Which is what Mr. Slagle converted his sentence to, by taking matters into his own hands.

    And what would be the result (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:19:02 PM EST
    if all protocols were followed correctly? Death at the hands of The State.

    It seems like Slagle made the only decision left available to him. By choosing the time and method of his death he robbed The State, and Kasich, of the vengeance they so desperately longed for.

    According (none / 0) (#3)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 03:57:21 PM EST
    to the writings of inmate William Van Poyck, detailing what goes on on death row:

    Seven days before an execution,

    "They remove all your property from your cell while an officer sits in front of your cell 24/7 recording everything you do. "

    How in the world did Slagle manage to find the wherewithal to hang himself? It would seem to me that any material that would be useful for a prisoner to kill him or herself would be removed from the cell if the intention was to prevent a suicide. And if a guard is posted outside the cell 24/7, how could this suicide be possible unless the guard was asleep or a passive accomplice?

    I'm left to postulate that the State didn't care. And if it did care, it is totally incompetent.

    Your extrapolation (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 05:28:13 PM EST
    would be weak since you're taking what you learned from the writings of a dead Florida inmate and assuming both you and he knows what takes place in Ohio.

    For starters, in Florida all male death row inmates are held in Raiford, Florida. Not so in Ohio where male death row inmates are currently held at three different facilities. Slagle had not yet been transferred to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility where executions take place.

    What you describe, along with a running computer log of everything the condemned prisoner does in Ohio, starts when they arrive at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.


    Which tells me that he knew that (none / 0) (#6)
    by Anne on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 05:31:22 PM EST
    if he was going to do it, he had to do it before the transfer.

    I hope the governor's not too disappointed...


    Agreed with your first sentence (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by CoralGables on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 05:38:00 PM EST
    And I'd say from Slagle's viewpoint, and not speaking ill of the dead, I'm happy he was able to choose his own route in the end.

    Although, I presume his success will be to the disadvantage of anyone that follows in Ohio as long as we continue this irrational form of punishment.


    Yes... (none / 0) (#8)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 06:24:43 PM EST
    I see your point about the differences between Florida and Ohio.

    What I still don't understand though, is why any prisoner who has reason to feel that their time on earth is limited, would be allowed to keep in his or her cell any material that could be used for the purpose of suicide: in this case hanging... which would include something to tie around the neck, and something to tie the the "noose" around - a pipe or some-such, and a chair or something to stand on...

    I don't know - but it seems like real stupidity or deliberate negligence on the part of the prison staff or management.


    Deliberate negligence by prison staff... ? (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by gbrbsb on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 05:38:33 AM EST
    Interesting train of thought... prison guards more humane than the Governor and his voters!

    I am glad the condemned had available the means and resolve if that's what he wanted to do in his hopeless circumstances bereft of any means for even a minimum of repentance and redemption. Me too, rather by my own hand.

    And no life sentence without the possibility, (30 or 40 years down the line), of at least applying for parole either. In Europe such inhumane sentences are all but extinct, and as a deterrent my a*s, as we have much less than half the murders per capita than in the US, which, while proclaiming itself "The greatest place on earth" is on this, probably more in line with countries not exactly famed for their civilised, democratic, or humanitarian ilk.


    Point (none / 0) (#12)
    by lentinel on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 06:57:14 AM EST

    Hanging isn't very hard. (none / 0) (#16)
    by magster on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 11:23:43 AM EST
    I read of a hanging in the Denver jail that all it took was about a foot of material, and the guy hanging himself while lying down with his head suspended over the pillow.

    Hanging (none / 0) (#17)
    by lentinel on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 11:28:20 AM EST
    while lying down...



    I was trying to find story... (none / 0) (#18)
    by magster on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 11:55:16 AM EST
    but couldn't. But I've read elsewhere that because of the ease of a successful suicide from partial suspension hanging, that it's a really difficult problem for jails.

    Hanging near to suffocation is also a sex game (none / 0) (#20)
    by gbrbsb on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 02:11:45 PM EST
    for males (heightens the pleasure it seems) and IIRC in the past 10 years a couple of celebrities have died accidentally that way, one using a belt tied to a door knob in a hotel (it's not widely published obviously). Don't think this was the case here though.

    It's terrifying how successful hanging is (none / 0) (#21)
    by magster on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 05:22:33 PM EST
    as a suicide method. I would venture that a lot of teen "call for help" suicide attempts by hanging unfortunately are fatal events.

    I hope it's not wrong to mention a TV show (none / 0) (#10)
    by SuzieTampa on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:56:19 PM EST
    But some people think "The Killing" on AMC has made a powerful case against the death penalty. Don't read this link if you don't want to be spoiled by last week's episode.

    I Was 18 in 1988 as Well... (none / 0) (#13)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 09:00:08 AM EST
    ...that seems like 3 lifetimes ago.

    No one is the person they were 25 years ago, but more interesting is what is the entire point of the death penalty if it takes 25 years to kill someone in Ohio and how much money did they waste trying to kill this guy.

    Apparently (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 09:25:31 AM EST
    He had a history of violence.  The year before the murder he violently assaulted a married couple he was living with after they asked him to move out (he struck the wife in the head with a meat hook and stabbed her husband in the leg with a pair of scissors).

    Wonder how no one saw this before.  Did the system fail him then?


    I was reading (none / 0) (#24)
    by sj on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 11:27:02 AM EST
    your comment and didn't roll my eyes once at the information. Only at your offensive/defensive final sentence.

    You just can't help yourself, can you? (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:13:15 PM EST
    Not any more than you can (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:17:09 PM EST
    apparently. Obvious from reading your both comments #15 and #25. Not sure why I should show more restraint than you do.

    Just saying.


    For starters (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:21:35 PM EST
    I was adding details to the background of the case, and inquiring as to how it was possible that nothing happened with this guy - whether incarceration, mental help, prescription drugs, or whatever because it's clear this guy had anger issues.

    You, on the other hand, as is typical lately, added nothing of substance to the conversation except to do a drive by snide comment.

    Just saying.


    You were adding to the details (none / 0) (#30)
    by sj on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 01:01:19 PM EST
    Which I appreciated.  Then you added a completely substance free and offensive closing sentence. Which I didn't. You can continue to be abusive or not. I don't care. I'm done with you on this topic. So now you can downrate away as you usually do when you're called on your unwarranted hostility/passive-aggressiveness.

    And that's why you get in so many arguments with commenters who often agree with part, most, or all of what you're saying. But then, sometimes so do I.


    This is now (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 09:17:53 AM EST
    The third death associated with this crime.  The first being the original victim, whom Slagle stabbed to death 17 times with scissors during a robbery. (The two young children she was babysitting wtinessed this event.  The second was one of the children who witnessed this event - he committed suicide in 2002 at age 20 and was apparently never able to come to grips with this event.  And now Slagle.

    imo, kind of brings home the truth... (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 12:05:20 PM EST
    ...that there really is no genuine justice for murder. Simply one of the horrible aspects of life that remind us we are mortal and often powerless.

    We had a murder in my family about thirty years ago. First open casket funeral I'd ever attended, and I remember every second of it today. Some things, like I said, do not lend themselves to real healing, only endurance and stumbling and staggering ahead, with the knowledge this is the only life we get.


    Dadler (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 06:08:35 AM EST
    so sorry to hear that. Kind of know the feeling but not to that extent.

    I'm very sorry to hear that (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by sj on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 11:25:19 AM EST
    Some tragedies don't ever heal. They are like low-level persistent infections that can never quite be eliminated no matter how many courses of emotional antibiotics are administered.

    Peace to you.


    Exactly... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:16:38 PM EST
    ...and we have been conditioned to believe that some how a pound of flesh is going to make it all better.  

    That being said, occasionally I am forced to challenge that notion.  The Norway shooter who killed 77 people and was sentenced the maximum, 21 years.  He's 34.

    But then again, it's all abstract as I have never had anyone I know, even remotely, die from violence.


    Yeah, unfortunately there's no shortage.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by magster on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 12:40:26 PM EST
    of monsters available to make the case for keeping the death penalty.

    I have always said that I have (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by sj on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 01:14:46 PM EST
    two completely irreconcilable viewpoints on the death penalty.

    On the one hand, I truly believe that the justice system should reflect the very highest ideals and principles of society. And the killing of one of its citizens for whatever reason does not do that in any way.

    On the other hand, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer...

    I think though, that maybe I've nearly reconciled those opposing views. Life imprisonment is punishment enough for "the other hand". Now the problem is that there are just too many people in prison who really could have benefited from rehabilitation and become a functional member of society instead of just an inmate. Because life in prison as "we" know it today is a strange and terrible thing.


    Crime and Punishment (none / 0) (#32)
    by ragebot on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 03:07:38 PM EST
    I can recall many years ago reading William Buckley's analysis.  He observed that if a man killed his wife after catching her committing adultery he might well get a life sentence, or even the death penalty.  On the other hand if a pickpocket who lifted some ones wallet most likely would get a much lighter punishment, maybe even no jail time.

    But in reality the man who killed his wife would be unlikely to kill anyone else unless he got married to another unfaithful wife.  But a pickpocket with no other skill to earn a living might well go right back to being a pickpocket.

    So how does one design a criminal justice system that takes into account not only the horror of the crime but the likelihood the perp will go back to committing crimes.