COLUMBUS, Ohio — A man who had no criminal record before he fatally shot his former girlfriend has killed himself on death row, the state prisons agency said Monday.
Patrick Leonard died Sunday night of an apparent suicide at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in an email to The Associated Press.
Leonard was sentenced to death for the 2000 killing of 23-year-old Dawn Flick in Hamilton County.
The 47-year-old Leonard was angry at Flick for ending their relationship and refusing to reconcile, according to court records. Records say Leonard handcuffed Flick, tried to rape her and shot her three times.
Leonard came from a good family and didn't smoke, drink or do drugs, the Ohio Supreme Court noted in a 2004 decision upholding his death sentence.
"Prior to this incident, Leonard was not considered violent and had not been in trouble with police," the ruling said. "The fact that Leonard had committed these crimes was described as shocking and extremely out of character."
Leonard didn't have a scheduled execution date. His attorney declined to comment, as did the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office.
Suicides and suicide attempts are rare but not unheard of on death row.
The last death row suicide in Ohio was in 2013, when Billy Slagle hanged himself just days before his scheduled execution. Slagle used a belt in his cell on death row in Chillicothe.
In a note, Slagle called his nearly three decades in prison torture and said he was taking his destiny into his own hands, according to a State Highway Patrol report.
In California, two dozen inmates have taken their lives since the state reintroduced capital punishment in 1978.
In 2009, Pennsylvania death row inmate Jose Pagan, sentenced to die for the execution-style slayings of four people in 1990 and 1991, was found hanging in his cell.
In 2013, Arizona serial killer Dale Hausner killed himself after hoarding antidepressants from a fellow inmate in the months before his death, one of four Arizona death row inmate suicides since 2010.
Associated Press writers Donald Thompson in Sacramento, California; Bob Christie in Phoenix; and Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins, The Associated Press