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Cleveland: McGinty seeks to get prisoner off death row

5:46 PM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty is taking a step many familiar with his tough on crime reputation may find hard to believe.

He is seeking to get a convicted killer who brutally murdered a much-beloved Cleveland woman in front of two small children off death row.

A jury found Billy Slagle repeatedly stabbed 40-year-old Mari Ann Pope, ignoring her prayers to live.  Slagle is sentenced to die August 7.

But McGinty has asked the Parole Board, and ultimately Governor John Kasich, to commute the sentence to life.

That's outraged some who loved Pope.

Lauretta Keeton is the mother of the then-two small children who were scarred for life. She calls Pope "a saint."

"I was appalled. I was physically sick. It made me ill to think they're going to go back 26 years.. ...It's wrong for Tim McGinty to disturb this," she said.

McGinty is reviewing the office's use of the death penalty.

He's currently debating whether to apply it to Ariel Castro, the man accused of heinous crimes against three Cleveland women.

Spokesman Joe Frolik says Slagle was a teenager with drug and alcohol problems from an abusive home.

Ohio law has changed since this case. The Slagle jury did not have the option of a guaranteed sentence of life without parole.

In a release, McGinty said, "While in no way do these factors excuse or mitigate the crime...they likely would have led a jury to recommend a sentence of life without parole."

Keeton says McGinty is trying to rewrite history and is presumptuous to try to imagine what the jury would have done.

"The laws were the laws. They should not be interefered with," she said. 

A parole hearing on Slagle's case is set for Monday. Keeton and other plan to be there in protest to keep the original death sentence intact.

Frolik says McGinty plans to review three other cases of Cuyahoga County inmates set to die by next May.

WKYC-TV

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