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Ohio death row inmate called suicide inevitable

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 11:18 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Uncredited)
FILE-This undated file photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Billy Slagle. Slagle, an Ohio death row inmate who killed himself just days before his execution called his suicide inevitable in a three-page note and expressed resentment that Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro got a life sentence instead. (AP Photo/Ohio Department of Rehabilitation, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio death row inmate who killed himself just days before his execution called his suicide inevitable in a three-page note and expressed resentment that Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro got a life sentence, according to a police report released Thursday.

Billy Slagle also called his nearly three decades in prison torture and said he was taking his destiny into his own hands, according to the State Highway Patrol report.

"It is perfectly clear that I have committed suicide by hanging myself," the note begins, according to the report.

A summary of the note continues with Slagle mentioning being executed despite opposition from his family and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

"In this letter Slagle gives details of what to do with his body and his property, claims Ohio had no mercy on him, talks about his charges, that he has to forfeit his life but Ariel Castro avoids the death penalty," the patrol's summary of the suicide note said.

It continued: "... he states the death penalty is inconsistent and arbitrary, and his final paragraph is an apology to his loved ones."

Slagle, 44, hanged himself with a belt and shoestring that he hooked onto a conduit in his cell on death row at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, according to the report. He was scheduled to die Aug. 7 for the 1987 stabbing of neighbor Mari Anne Pope.

McGinty had pushed for Slagle to be spared, arguing that under current practice in Cuyahoga County the crime wouldn't have been prosecuted as a death penalty case, adding that life without parole was not an option when Slagle was tried.

Slagle also died not knowing his attorneys were planning a last-minute appeal based on newly discovered information from McGinty that Slagle was never informed of a plea bargain offered by prosecutors at the time.

Castro was found hanged in his cell a month later. A coroner has ruled his death suicide, but a prisons report has suggested he might have died while trying to achieve a sexual thrill as he choked himself.

Slagle's attorneys said Thursday they remain saddened by his death.

"His loss of hope is evident by what little information this report reflects of his suicide note," federal public defenders Joe Wilhelm and Vicki Werneke said in an email.

Two prison guards have been suspended while the state investigates allegations an electronic log documenting checks on Slagle the day he died was falsified.

The patrol report said Slagle was last seen alive just after 4 a.m., about an hour before he was discovered hanging in his cell.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

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