Arizona death-row inmate found dead in apparent suicide


An Arizona death-row inmate died Monday in an apparent suicide, state Department of Corrections officials said.

Gregory Dickens, 48, was pronounced dead after lifesaving measures failed, according to a news release.

Dickens was sentenced to death for his part in a double murder near Yuma in 1991. But, last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he was entitled to a new hearing in U.S. District Court to determine whether his first appeals attorney had been ineffective.

He was also the lead plaintiff in a 2009 federal lawsuit that challenged the state’s methods of carrying out executions by lethal injection.

(Source: AZCentral)


Ohio: Corrections officers placed on leave after Death Row inmate’s suicide

Two corrections officers on Death Row who were on duty when convicted killer Billy Slagle committed suicide early Sunday morning have been placed on administrative leave.

JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said today that officers Clay Putnam, 19, and John McCollister, 30, were placed on administrative leave yesterday with pay, standard policy in suspension cases. No other information was released about the department’s investigation.

McCollister has been with the agency since 2010 and Putnam became a corrections officer in January this year.

Slagle, 44, was found hanging in his cell on Death Row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution about 5 a.m. Sunday and died an hour later. Officers at the prison are supposed to make rounds of all cells every 30 minutes. His suicide came just hours before he was scheduled to go on around-the-clock watch beginning 72 hours prior to his execution.

He was scheduled to be lethally injected for the 1987 murder of 40-year-old Mari Anne Pope, his neighbor in Cleveland. (The Columbus Dispatch Thursday August 8, 2013)

Death row suicides more common than you’d think

CLEVELAND, Ohio — It seems hard to fathom, how locked away, under close watch, death row inmates can commit suicides.

Today convicted murderer Billy Slagle, who was scheduled to be executed in three days for killing a Cleveland woman in 1987, was found hanged in his cell this morning.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Slagle, 44, was found just after 5 a.m. and was pronounced dead about an hour later. The department is conducting a review of the apparent suicide and no further details are available, she said.

Across the country, at least three prisoners have killed themselves this year.

  • In April, San Quentin, Calif., death row inmate Justin Alan Helzer committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell, using a sheet attached to bars, according to CBS station KPIX. Helzer, 41, who was convicted of five murders in 2004, had tried to kill himself three years earlier by jabbing pens and pencils into his eye sockets. A prison official said Helzer had been watched intensively, but showed no signs that he was at risk of another suicide. 
  • In May, death row inmate Kenneth Justice killed himself at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, SC, accordingo to The Post-Courier. Justus, 47, who received the death penalty for stabbing another inmate 11 times with a homemade shank, was discovered covered in blood, with a wound in the crease of his elbow and a razor blade in his hand.
Death row suicide isn’t unheard of in Ohio, either.
Three years ago, Lawrence Reynolds Jr. of Cuyahoga Falls overdosed on pills in an attempt to escape execution. Reynolds stockpiled about 30 pills, investigators said.
Reynolds, who strangled his neighbor in 1994, said he did not want to give the state the satisfaction of killing him. He was executed 10 days later.

Ohio killer Billy Slagle commits suicide in cell days before he was set to be executed

A KILLER facing execution on Wednesday has been found dead in his cell Sunday on Ohio’s death row in an apparent suicide.

Prison spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Billy Slagle, 44, was found dead in his cell about 5am local time Sunday at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution south of Columbus, Ohio. He was declared dead within the hour.

No other details were immediately provided.

Slagle was sentenced to die for fatally stabling neighbour 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 Governor 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.

Mr 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. (Associated Press)

ARIZONA – Arizona prison system sees high number of deaths

June 2, 2012 Source :

Arizona’s prison system has two death rows.

One is made up of the 126 inmates officially sentenced to death — 123 men at the Eyman state prison in Florence and three women at Perryville. Seven convicted killers from that group have been executed over the last two years.

slideshow Arizona prison inmate deaths

The other death row, the unofficial one, reaches into every prison in Arizona’s sprawling correctional system. No judge or jury condemned anyone in this group to death. They die as victims of prison violence, neglect and mistreatment.

Over the past two years, this death row has claimed the lives of at least 37 inmates, more than five times the number executed from the official death row. Among them are mentally ill prisoners locked in solitary confinement who committed suicide, inmates who overdosed on drugs smuggled into prison, those with untreated medical conditions and inmates murdered by other inmates.

Unlike state executions, these deaths rarely draw much notice. Each receives a terse announcement by the Department of Corrections and then is largely forgotten.

But correctional officers and other staff who work with inmates say many of these deaths are needless and preventable.

Arizona will spend $1.1 billion this year to lock up its 40,000 prisoners.

But there is another cost, one measured not in dollars but in human lives.

Over four days, an Arizona Republic investigation will reveal a prison system that houses inmates under brutal conditions that can foster self-harm, allows deadly drugs to flow in from the outside, leaves inmates to die from treatable medical conditions and fails to protect inmates from prison predators.

Today, The Republic focuses on suicides in the prison system, where there have been at least 19 in the past two years. Arizona’s official prison-suicide rate during that period was 60 percent higher than the national average. But suicides in prison are likely underreported, according to critics.

More than half of the suicides involved inmates in solitary confinement, including some with serious mental illnesses.