"Inmate who committed suicide didn't know about execution stay possibility," is by Alan Johnson in today's Columbus Dispatch. Here's the beginning:
Convicted killer Billy Slagle killed himself not knowing about an undisclosed plea deal that could have spared him from execution.
As his attorneys hurriedly prepared a last-minute appeal to file with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking a stay of execution — with the promise it would not be opposed by the state — Slagle took matters into his own hands. He hanged himself in his Death Row cell at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in the early morning hours of Sunday.
Vicki Werneke and Joseph Wilhelm, Slagle’s federal public defenders, are left to wonder “what if?”
“I don’t know what more we could have done,” Werneke said.
Werneke said that late Friday afternoon, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty called Wilhelm with a revelation: County prosecutors had offered Slagle a plea deal at his original trial 26 years ago. If he pleaded guilty, he would serve 30 years and be eligible for parole. However, Slagle’s attorneys at the time did not inform him of the deal; instead, he received the death penalty.
McGinty spokesman Joe Frolik confirmed his boss made the call indicating his office had uncovered information that the prosecutor at the time of Slagle’s trial, the late John T. Corrigan, offered a deal.
“We felt we had an obligation to tell Slagle’s appellate team,” Frolik said. “We said that if they applied for a hearing and stay of execution, we could not oppose them. If a court was looking for a reason to grant a stay, that would have opened the door.”
Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes the editorial, "Slagle suicide demands answers."
The state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is conducting a "comprehensive after-action review" of the incident, said spokeswoman JoEllen Smith.
Slagle doesn't deserve any sympathy. But the public deserves a full accounting of what happened. Slagle's suicide was not the first time those awaiting execution have tried to kill themselves in Ohio, and elsewhere.
Earlier coverage of Billy Slagle's case begins at the link.