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Ohio killer set for execution found hanged in cell

This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Billy Slagle. Slagle was found hanged in his prison cell on Sunday, three days before he was to face the death sentence for stabbing a woman in 1987.Ohio Dept. Of Rehabilitation via AP

CLEVELAND — A man condemned to death for fatally stabbing a neighbor during a Cleveland burglary apparently killed himself in his cell Sunday just days before his execution set for Wednesday.

Billy Slagle, 44, was found hanging in his cell about 5 a.m. at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution south of Columbus, prison spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. He was declared dead within the hour.

No other details were immediately provided.

Slagle was sentenced to die for the 1987 stabbing of Mari Anne Pope, who was killed while two young children she was watching were in the house.

In a rare move, the prosecutor in Cleveland had asked the Ohio Parole Board to spare Slagle. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said jurors today, with the option of life without parole, would be unlikely to sentence Slagle to death.

The parole board and Gov. John Kasich both rejected mercy for Slagle.

Last week, Slagle's attorney argued that a jury never got the chance to hear the full details of his troubled childhood.

The attorneys, arguing for a new trial and to delay his execution, said that information met requirements for asking for a new trial, which normally must happen within four months of a conviction.

Slagle was "unavoidably prevented" from filing his request because his original attorneys didn't develop and present the evidence, the filing said.

McGinty and Slagle's attorneys had cited his age — at 18, he was barely old enough for execution in Ohio — and his history of alcohol and drug addiction.