Some acid spray details tossed — (The Canton Repository)

SSRI Ed note: Man with no history of mental illness or violence separates from wife, takes Paxil, attempts suicide, traps wife,throws acid on her, gets prison time.

Original article no longer available

The Canton Repository

Thursday, September 30, 2004

By SHANE HOOVER Repository staff writer

CANTON – County prosecutors can use only some of the statements made to authorities by a man accused of burning his wife with acid.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge John G. Haas ruled Wednesday that some of the taped statements made by William F. Slabaugh to a Stark County sheriff’s deputy cannot be used as evidence because the deputy didn’t tell Slabaugh he had the right to remain silent.

Slabaugh, 68, is accused of spraying his wife with nitric acid in the basement of their Lake Township home on July 10. He is charged with kidnapping, felonious assault and a misdemeanor count of domestic violence, and is being held in the Stark County Jail on $2 million bond.

During a taped interview less than an hour after the alleged attack, Slabaugh told a deputy that he attacked his wife because she was divorcing him and he didn’t want her to be with anyone else.

Slabaugh also said he ordered the nitric acid from an Internet supplier because he knew it caused severe burns.

Haas decided that comments Slabaugh made at the beginning of the interview could be used because the deputy was trying to figure out what had happened in order to protect others from injury.

That means Slabaugh’s statement that he burned his wife with nitric acid is admissible, Haas said.

After getting that information, however, the deputy should have read Slabaugh his Miranda rights before asking any more questions, Haas ruled. That excludes Slabaugh’s comments as to how and why he got the acid.

Slabaugh later repeated his story to another deputy in the hospital, and Haas said those comments, containing similar information, are admissible because Slabaugh made them after waiving his rights.

Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Jennifer Dave said the ruling doesn’t hurt the case against Slabaugh.

Slabaugh told both deputies nearly the same story, actually going into more detail during the second interview in the hospital, Dave said. The interview in the hospital was not taped.

Defense attorney Donald Malarcik Jr. said he was pleased the judge excluded some of the evidence, but he said the key issue in the case will be Slabaugh’s mental state at the time of the alleged assault.

Slabaugh had become depressed after separating from his wife and had been prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant, a little more than a week before the alleged attack, Malarcik said.

After the prescription, Slabaugh, who had no history of mental illness or violence, attempted suicide, Malarcik said. The defense will argue that the drug also played a role in the attack.

“What we think the evidence will show is that under the wrong conditions, Paxil has the potential to send someone into a homicidal, suicidal rage,” Malarcik said.

In 2001, a federal jury found that the drug was responsible for causing a Wyoming man to kill his wife, their daughter, his granddaughter and himself. The jury awarded the victims? relatives $6.4 million plus interest, according to court records.

You can reach Repository writer Shane Hoover at (330) 580-8338 or e-mail:


To view complete transcript click here


This matter arises from the assault and battery by Appellant-Defendant William Slabaugh (hereinafter “Appellant”) upon Appellee-Plaintiff Becky E. Slabaugh
(hereinafter “Appellee”). On July 10, 2004, Appellant attacked Appellee in the house they had shared as husband and wife, pulling and holding her by her hair, spraying her
face and head with highly toxic nitric acid and pouring the acid all over her person. (T at 15-17). At the time of the attack, Appellee and Appellant were separated. As a result of
Appellant’s attack on Appellee, Appellee suffered burns over fifty percent of her body, and she must wear a facial mask for a year to assist with the healing of her skin. To
date, Appellee’s medical expenses exceed $860,000.00; at the time of the hearing held in this matter, her medical expenses were approximately $280,000.00. (T at 22). On
December 8, 2004, Appellant was convicted of felonious assault and kidnapping, and sentenced to a term of two years, consecutive to a term of ten years, respectively, in
prison, a sentence which he is currently serving.