News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Levin Furniture

Akron Children's Hospital

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Courts and Crime

Death-row inmate who committed suicide had another chance to appeal
Cleveland inmate Billy Slagle killed himself Sunday morning

Jo Ingles
New information could have saved Cleveland death-row inmate Billy Slagle from execution.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Billy Slagle of Cleveland killed himself without knowing there was a chance his execution could have been stayed at the last minute. Assistant federal Public Defender Vicki Werneke says a new appeal effort had begun Friday evening.

In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Werneke says her colleague, Joe Wilhelm, got new information from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim Ginty’s office and Werneke explains how it could have made a difference.



Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (0:20)

LISTEN: Public defender explains why Slagle's last appeal had a chance

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (2:14)

Werneke – The original trial prosecutor, the assistant prosecutor, had informed McGinty’s office that at the time of the trial in 1988, the prosecutor then, the head prosecutor John Corrigan, had authorized a plea deal to Mr. Slagle that if he pled guilty, he would get life imprisonment with parole after 30 years.

And according to the assistant prosecutor, he had told defense counsel about it and the defense counsel had rejected the plea offer. We were surprised by that because when we had met with Billy back in May, getting ready for his clemency hearing, … he had lamented the fact that if he had been offered a deal at the time of the trial, he would have taken it because he had lots of remorse and had accepted responsibility for what he had done even back at the trial in 1988.

Ingles – And so he never knew about this at the time – the attorneys did not tell him?

Werneke- Correct. Apparently, as far as we can tell, as far as we know, Billy never knew that there was a deal offered at the time of the trial and we think he would have taken it.

Ingles – What difference does this make now? Would you have been able to go back and get an appeal based on this or what?

Werneke –That’s what our plans were. By the time Joe got off the phone with McGinty, it was 5:30. I was still driving back from the prison because it was a four-hour drive. And we had got our hopes up. … We were already strategizing about what we were going to be doing. And then about 7 o'clock Friday night, Matt Meyer, assistant county prosecutor, called Joe on his cell phone and said, 'Are you going to be filing a stay of execution with the Ohio Supreme Court?'

And Joe said, 'Yes, that’s one of the things we immediately thought of was to file another stay of execution on Monday morning.' And Matt Mayer told Joe “We … are not going to oppose it.”

Joe and I came in on Saturday and prepared a motion with the court, Joe had typed up what was going to be an affidavit based on the conversation he had with Mr. McGinty and we were going to submit that Monday morning. …. And the fact that it was going to be unopposed by the prosecutors, which would be the only entity that could object, we felt rather confident that the Ohio Supreme Court would stay the execution.

If we had any thought that he was going to hurt himself, obviously we would have informed the prison that we were concerned about him hurting himself too,

Werneke says it’s difficult to communicate with prisoners over the weekend, and she had no indication that Slagle was thinking about suicide. He was found hanging in his cell at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, early Sunday morning.


Listener Comments:

Really? "It's difficult to communicate with prisoners over the weekend." Right especially when its about someone who's on DEATH row.. its not like its urgent or important or anything.. you know the usual, life, death.. they're the same thing, there's no urgency in trying to not let the inmate enjoy the beautiful sunny weather we have outside when they're able to maybe see it in windows when they walk the hallways every now and then.. no, no urgency, this makes complete sense...

Where's your heart?
And how is 30 years in prison with parole better?
Inmates should not be in a situation where they are allowed to kill themselves.. this was obvious neglect.

I don't know his crime, but what disgusts me from this article is the lack of obvious care. Lots of prisons go out of their way to ensure that the inmates don't have any means to hurt others or themselvs.. It doesn't seem like that was done here.


Posted by: Natalie (Cleveland) on August 12, 2013 8:08AM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University