Middletown man accused of killing woman, putting body in barrel seeks funds for expert witness

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Middletown Police investigating suspicious death on Yankee Road

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A trial date has been set for a Middletown man accused of killing a woman he allegedly mutilated and hid in a metal drum.

William Slaton, 35, was arrested June 30 after Middletown police discovered 21-year-old Cecily Cornett’s body in a barrel at his home in the 3200 block of Yankee Road. Last month, a Butler County grand jury indicted Slaton for murder, felonious assault, four counts of tampering with evidence, involuntary manslaughter, three counts of gross abuse of a corpse and assault.

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Slaton was in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, when Judge Keith Spaeth set his trial for May 3, 2021.

Cecily Cornett SUBMITTED
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Cecily Cornett SUBMITTED

Court-appointed defense attorney David Brewer has also filed a motion requesting money to pay a forensic pathologist to assist the defense.

In the motion for the expert funding, Brewer said he read the autopsy report, which lists Cornett’s cause of death as undetermined. The defense is asking the judge to approve $5,000 for approximately 11 hours of work by Dr. Thomas W. Young, according to court records.

Slaton remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $210,000 bond.

The case against William Slaton, 35, of Middletown, was bound over to a Butler County grand jury on Wednesday, said Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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The case against William Slaton, 35, of Middletown, was bound over to a Butler County grand jury on Wednesday, said Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

At the time of the indictment, the Butler County Coroner’s Office had not released Cornett’s manner and cause of death.

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Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said when the indictment was filed that he does not need that coroner’s ruling to move forward with the case.

“I can string evidence together to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to how she died or I wouldn’t be taking a case to a jury," he said. "Obviously cutting fingers off, surgically removing tattoos, stuffing somebody in a barrel, throwing it over the fence when police arrive at the door and other statements to police all can yield circumstantial and direct evidence beyond what a coroner may say.”

Middletown police were called to Slaton’s home on June 30 to investigate a tip about a dead woman in a barrel on the property. When police knocked on the door and told Slaton about the complaint, he refused to let officers inside. He went back into the house, ran out of the back and dumped the barrel over a fence into a neighbor’s yard, Middletown police Maj. Scott Reeve said.

When officers opened the barrel, they found a nude woman’s body.

During an interview with detectives, Slaton admitted to being in the house with the victim and said that after using drugs, he woke up and found her hanging in the basement, according to Middletown Municipal Court documents. He told police he used a knife to cut off her fingers and tattoos.

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