Billy Slagle, Ohio

 

August 5, 2013

Billy Slagle was scheduled to be executed at 10 am EDT, on August 7, 2013, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Forty-four-year-old Billy is convicted of stabbing to death his neighbor, 40-year-old Mari Anne Pope, in the early morning hours of August 13, 1987, in her Cleveland, Ohio apartment. Billy has spent the past 26 years on Ohio’s death row.

Billy’s story is a particularly sad one. He did not grow up in an ideal environment. His parents argued frequently and often hosted parties that involved alcohol. Billy started drinking at the age of five. At the age of 17, Billy entered a residential drug rehabilitation program. When he left the program and returned home, his drinking became worse than before. Billy thought that he could be a functional alcoholic like his dad, which is why he did not do any follow up for his rehabilitation program. Billy described himself as a loaner. He became associated with a group of drug users and admitted to using LSD, cocaine, and valium.

In addition to drugs and alcohol problems, Billy had numerous encounters with the law as a juvenile. In 1985, Billy stole two vehicles, approximately one month apart. In 1986, Billy was found to be in possession of a stolen vehicle. He later broke into a residence, stealing property. Also in 1986, Billy assaulted a male victim with a pair of scissors and caused serious physical harm to a female. He was placed on probation for the assault. Billy frequently violated his probation by failing to obey authority figures and follow the rules of his probation such as not drinking alcohol, not doing drugs, or attending high school.

 

On August 12, 1987, Billy Slagle spent the day drinking beer and whiskey and smoking pot. While outside his house early the next morning, Slagle decided to break into a neighbor’s house to steal money to buy more alcohol. Slagle has said that he did not know whose apartment he was breaking into, however he had seen Mari Pope coming and going from the apartment and knew that she lived alone.

 

In the very early morning hours of August 13, 1987, Slagle entered Mari’s apartment from a side window. Mari was awakened by a noise. Two children whom she was watching were awakened when Mari asked the intruder who he was. According to the children, Slagle asked if there were any other occupants in the house. When she said yes, Slagle told the children not to move, as he had a knife to Mari’s back.

 

The children testified that they recognized the voice of the intruder as Slagle. They were able to escape from the apartment and go to a neighbor’s apartment to call the police. As the children escaped, one of them looked into Mari’s bedroom and saw Slagle sitting on top of Mari, who was lying on her stomach. Mari was heard screaming as the children left.

 

When police arrived, they spotted Slagle who attempted to hide. Slagle was found holding blood covered scissors in the dining room, where he was handcuffed. In the bedroom, Mari was discovered drenched with blood, with her nightgown pulled up to her neck and several large holes in her body. At 6:00 am, Mari was pronounced dead. She had been stabbed 17 times and severely beaten about her head and face.

 

While police tried to save Mari, Slagle hid in a closet. He then tried to rush police as they tried to grab him. Officers described Slagle as very quick and agile. It took three officers to subdue Slagle. Slagle had blood on his hands and clothes, in addition to several superficial scratches and bruises.

 

Slagle was interviewed by police later that day. Although he initially denied involvement in the crime, he eventually confessed to crime, although there were parts he said he did not remember, such as where he procured the scissors.

 

On Monday, July 8, 2013, both the prosecution and the defense for Billy Slagle asked the Ohio Parole Board to grant clemency, citing Billy’s youth and his extensive drug and alcohol abuse. Billy was 18 at the time of the murder, the youngest age possible to receive the death penalty. Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty says that Billy should also be granted clemency because the jury had no choice but to give him the death penalty. When Billy was tried, the option of life in prison without the possibility of parole was not an option. McGinty went on to say that if the crime had happened today, he would not have pursued the death penalty. Both the Ohio Parole Board and Governor John Kasich rejected the clemency requests..

 

A few days prior to his execution, Billy was found hanging in his cell at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution near Columbus, Ohio. He was declared dead a short time later.

 

Please pray for peace for the family of Mari Anne Pope. Please pray for peace and healing for the two children who were also in the apartment that night. Please pray for wisdom for all involved in this case. Please pray for strength for the family of Billy. Finally, please pray the Billy may come to have peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.

 

 

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