A man condemned to death for fatally stabbing a neighbor during a burglary was found hanged in his cell Sunday just days before his Wednesday execution.
Billy Slagle, 44, was found at about 5 a.m. at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution south of Columbus and was declared dead within the hour, prison spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
"He was in his cell alone. No other inmates suspected to be involved," Smith said in an email. "It does appear to be a suicide."
Under regular prison policy, he was scheduled to be placed under pre-execution watch Sunday morning but "was not yet placed under constant watch," Smith said.
Slagle's defense team was shocked and saddened at the news and had no clue he might commit suicide, attorney Vicki Werneke said.
"We were still litigating in court and had hoped that the execution would have been stopped. There was oral argument scheduled for Monday afternoon," she told The Associated Press in an email.
An autopsy will be conducted Monday, according to Mike Ratliff, chief investigator for the Ross County coroner. He said the case was under investigation and no initial findings could be provided.
Slagle was sentenced in 1988 to die for the stabbing of Mari Anne Pope, who was killed while two young children she was watching were in the house.