William Slagle

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William Lee Slagle (born c. 1947) is a former a Samford University debate coach who killed Rex Copeland, one of his students, on September 21, 1989. He is currently serving a life sentence for the murder.

Slagle, described by students as a demanding instructor, was displeased with Copeland's performance at practice. Copeland was Slagle's star student, but had grown tired of the demands of being on the debate team. Slagle went to Copeland's apartment at Hunters Pointe in Inverness at 2:00 a.m. on September 21 and the two argued. Slagle then stabbed Copeland to death, splattering blood all over the apartment. Slagle then went back to his office and left a voice message for Copeland in an effort to cover up his involvement, instructing Copeland to return for more practice.

Slagle later attended Copeland's visitation and funeral, offering condolences to Copeland's parents. Several days later he fled, but wrote a confession to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. He was on the run for six months, during which he was featured on an episode of America's Most Wanted, before he surrendered.

Slagle was prosecuted by Shelby County district attorney Mike Campbell. While on the run, Slagle had written additional letters to authorities claiming he had acted in self-defense, however during his trial his students testified he had no visible wounds after the killing. In 1990, Slagle was convicted of the murder and sentence to life in prison.

Slagle is serving his sentence at Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery. He has been eligible for parole twice to date, in 2001 and 2007, and denied both times.


  • Diel, Stan (April 26, 2007) "Coach who killed debater will seek parole Monday." The Birmingham News
  • Ratcliffe, Al (n.d.) "Slagle Parole Hearing" WIAT 42. - accessed May 1, 2007
  • "Attorney general fights parole for killer." (April 29, 2007) Montgomery Advertiser.
  • Diel, Stan (May 1, 2007) "No parole for killer of top debater." The Birmingham News