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Condemned Ohio killer facing Wednesday execution found hanging in cell on death row

A killer facing execution Wednesday was found hanged in his cell Sunday on Ohio's death row, prison officials said.

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

No other details were immediately provided.

Slagle was sentenced to die for fatally stabling neighbor Mari Anne Pope in 1987 during a Cleveland burglary while two young children were present.

In a rare move, the prosecutor in Cleveland 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.