Cleveland prosecutor examining all capital cases

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm •  Published: July 12, 2013
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McGinty has made the rare move of asking the Ohio Parole Board to recommend mercy for Billy Slagle, set to die next month for the 1987 killing of his neighbor, Mari Anne Pope, while two children she was watching were home.

McGinty argues it would be difficult to get a death sentence today in the case of Slagle because of his age at the time — 18, the minimum age for execution in Ohio — and because of a long history of drug and alcohol addiction.

Three other county defendants are scheduled for execution this year and next.

Harry Mitts Jr., 61, is scheduled to die in September after being convicted of shooting two people, including a Garfield Heights police sergeant, in suburban Cleveland in 1994. Meyer called the facts in the case "just terrible" and said he doesn't foresee not pushing for execution.

But in the case of Arthur Tyler, Meyer said the office would "be looking very carefully." The 63-year-old man is scheduled to die in May for the death of Sander Leach as he was selling vegetables from his van on Cleveland's east side in 1983.

Meyer didn't address the case of Gregory Lott, 52, who is scheduled to die in March. Lott was convicted of setting fire to John McGrath in his Cleveland home July 15, 1986. McGrath, 84, died days later.

William Caine, a now retired assistant county prosecutor who handled Slagle's case, is critical of McGinty's approach. Once an appeals court has ruled, the criminal justice system doesn't permit "do-overs," Caine said earlier this week.

"There's always changes to improve and to clarify statutes," Caine said. "Does that mean that everybody on death row should get a retrial?"

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.