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Prosecutors seek mercy for killer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Both prosecutors and defense attorneys asked the Ohio Parole Board on Monday to spare a condemned killer who stabbed a neighbor 17 times, making a rare joint appeal for mercy based on the inmate’s youth at the time of the killing and his history of drug and alcohol abuse.

A divided board ruled against clemency two years ago for Billy Slagle, but that was before the election of new Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty and a change in his office’s approach to capital punishment.

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McGinty is applying new criteria to both old and new death penalty cases, and one of those elements is whether a death sentence could be obtained today, assistant prosecutor Matthew Meyer told the board.

‘‘The fact that the prosecutorial team does not feel confident that under today’s guidelines and today’s law we can achieve death, we will not come before this board or before the victims and say that death has to be the way this case should end up,’’ Meyer said.

Meyer said the decision to recommend mercy was not meant to diminish the heinous facts of the 1987 death of Mari Anne Pope, who was killed while two young children she was watching were in the house.

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