Man Who Escaped the Electric Chair Got a Big Shock Anyway

In 1980, a 21-year-old South Carolina man was charged with the murder of a 24-year-old woman in her apartment. Mary Elizabeth Royem was found sexually assaulted and beaten to death with an electric iron, and it was discovered that her attacker — Michael Sloan — was on work release from a local prison at the time. He was serving time for robbing a woman at knifepoint three years earlier. Sloan went on trial for Royem’s murder and sexual assault in 1981 and was convicted and sentenced to die in South Carolina’s electric chair. However, in 1983, his death sentence was commuted to life in prison after a retrial cleared him of the sexual assault. As fate would have it, Sloan was still destined to die on an electric chair, although a different one. While seated on a metal toilet, trying to repair earphones to a television set, he was electrocuted when he bit into the electrical cord. An investigation ruled the electrocution was accidental.