COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Parole Board on Thursday recommended against mercy for a condemned man scheduled to die this month for stabbing a Cleveland woman to death in 1986.
The board ruled unanimously that the horrific nature of Billy Slagle's crime outweighed the effects of his chaotic childhood and young age at the time.
Slagle, 42, was sentenced to death for killing neighbor Mari Anne Pope in Cleveland after breaking into her house to commit burglary, then stabbing her 17 times. Two children she was watching for neighbors were home at the time.
"Ms. Pope was a totally innocent victim," the board said in its ruling. "She was not engaged in any type of risk behavior that would have made her susceptible to crime."
A message was left with Slagle's attorney seeking comment.
At Slagle's clemency hearing last week, federal public defender Joe Wilhelm argued that clemency was justified because Slagle was only 18 when he committed the crime -- the minimum age for the death penalty in Ohio -- and was a chronic alcoholic with a chaotic upbringing.
Wilhelm also argued that Slagle, an American Indian of Chippewa heritage, suffered from a genetic predisposition to alcoholism that has been linked to Native Americans.
The state argued that the jury and several appeals courts had heard and rejected those arguments.
The final decision is up to Gov. John Kasich. Slagle is scheduled to die Sept. 20.
Slagle also has an appeal pending in federal court, arguing that Ohio death row inmates are in danger of painfully cruel executions because the state inconsistently follows its own execution policies.
The state last month submitted updated policies it says should satisfy a federal judge's criticism of the old rules.
U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost has not ruled on the updated regulations and holds a hearing on Slagle's argument in two weeks.
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