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Ohio Parole Board Recommends No Halt to Death Sentence for Raymond Tibbetts


Ohio's death house holding cell
Despite reservations from a former juror in the case, the Ohio Parole Board announced today that it believes the death penalty is still appropriate for Raymond Tibbetts.

After a special clemency hearing this month, the State of Ohio Adult Parole Authority today released its recommendation that Ohio Gov. John Kasich not halt the execution of Raymond Tibbetts, a Cincinnati man convicted in 1998 of 2 brutal murders. The 9-member parole board arrived at that decision 8-1. 

Earlier this year, Kasich called for the special clemency hearing after 1 of Tibbetts' jurors said he had not been given enough information about Tibbetts' background before voting for the death penalty 2 decades ago. 

Tibbetts was convicted of stabbing to death 67-year-old Fred Hicks and beating his 42-year-old caretaker Judith Crawford to death with a baseball bat in Hicks' Cincinnati home in 1997. Tibbetts had married Crawford a few weeks prior. Authorities found 3 knives left in Hicks. The grisly case made big local headlines, and Tibbetts was sentenced to death for Hicks' murder and life in prison without parole for Crawford's. 

Just weeks before Tibbetts' originally scheduled Feb. 13 execution, 1 of the jurors who helped put him on death row asked Kasich to pump the brakes on the death sentence. 

Ross Geiger's name appears on the list of Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas jurors who in 1998 convicted Tibbetts of murder and recommended he be put to death. But in a Jan. 30 letter to Kasich, Geiger said new evidence about Tibbetts' childhood had convinced him that the death penalty isn't appropriate for Tibbetts. 

"I am writing today to ask you show mercy to Raymond Tibbetts by commuting his death sentence to life in prison with no possibility of parole," Geiger writes. "This is not an easy request for me as I was a juror on the trial for that horrible crime." 

But the parole board says that Geiger's reservations shouldn't sway Kasich into halting Tibbetts' execution. 

"While the Parole Board believes that Geiger submitted his letter with the best of intentions, members are not convinced that his decision would have been different had the information been presented in the same manner at trial, when the results would have been deliberated within the jury setting. The vicious and gratuitous murder of Fred Hicks immediately following the brutal slaying of Judith Sue Crawford was so heinous that the mitigation as presented does not outweigh the aggravating factors in this case." 

Family members of both victims testified at the clemency hearing earlier this month that the delay in Tibbetts' execution was causing them mental anguish, and that they believed he should be executed despite his difficult background. 

Geiger's reasons for the letter stem from revelations not discussed at Tibbetts' original trial about horrific abuse he suffered as a child, details about his drug addiction and mental illness, lack of preparation from Tibbetts' defense team during the sentencing portion of his trial and other factors. 

Tibbetts, who was heavily addicted to opiates and alcohol, had undiagnosed mental illnesses stemming at least in part from a chaotic and unstable childhood. His biological mother and father were mostly absent, according to testimony from his attorneys before a clemency board hearing in January 2017. 

When they were around, they were physically abusive. Tibbetts and his siblings were taken from the home when he was 2 years old, and he then bounced around between different foster homes and orphanages, where he also experienced abuse and neglect. 

Testimony from Tibbetts' sister about their upbringing, as well as social service records about his childhood, were available but not presented at trial. 

In the months before the murders, Tibbetts attempted suicide. He had attempted to get into a treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction a month and a half before killing Hicks and Crawford, but was turned away. Those efforts show Tibbetts was suffering from mental illness, his attorneys have argued. 

"A juror on Mr. Tibbetts' trial identified a serious malfunction in the system, one that clemency is designed to correct," said Erin Barnhart, an attorney for Tibbetts and an assistant federal public defender. "Mr. Tibbetts faces execution because the jury did not receive complete and accurate information about his background during sentencing proceedings. This was due to ineffective representation by defense attorneys and reinforced by misleading statements by the prosecution. Under Ohio law, his single vote as a juror for a life sentence would have prevented the death penalty. Failing to correct the error caused by these breakdowns in the adversarial process would irreparably damage the integrity of our criminal justice system." 

At least 1 member of the parole board agreed with that reasoning. 

"The issue under consideration is whether the jury was sufficiently presented with full details of the mitigating circumstances, enabling them to make an informed decision in the case," the dissenting parole board member wrote. "The defense did not fully present the scope of the childhood abuse suffered by Tibbetts and the long-term impact of that abuse." 

Kasich isn't bound by the board's recommendation, and could still choose to permanently cancel Tibbetts' execution. 

Source: citybeat.com, June 22; 2018


Ohio Parole Board: Cincinnati killer still deserves death penalty even after juror sought mercy


Ray Tibbetts
The Ohio Parole Board ruled that Raymond Tibbetts, convicted of killing 2 people in Over-the-Rhine, still deserved the death penalty - even after an 11th-hour plea from a juror for mercy. 

The board, in an 8-1 vote, did not recommend clemency for Tibbetts to Gov. John Kasich, according to a report released Friday. Kasich will soon decide whether to continue with Tibbetts' execution, which is set for Oct. 17. 

The board gave Tibbetts' case a second look after a former juror, Ross Geiger of Loveland, wrote a letter to Kasich, expressing concern that jurors didn't know more about Tibbett's background before sentencing him to death. 

Tibbetts was sentenced to death for beating his wife, Sue Crawford, to death and fatally stabbing his landlord, Fred Hicks, on the same day in 1997. Geiger told The Enquirer that he had no doubts Tibbetts committed those murders. 

Even so, Geiger said he might not have recommended the death penalty if he had known about how Tibbetts had been abused as a child, put into foster care as a toddler and endured years of abuse and neglect, along with his siblings. That information was not presented before sentencing, Geiger said. 

Kasich delayed Tibbetts' execution after receiving the letter. But on Friday, the Ohio Parole Board found that evidence of Tibbetts' childhood would not have outweighed the heinous crime - even if Geiger and other jurors had all the details. 

One member disagreed, saying "the defense did not fully present the scope of the childhood abuse suffered by Tibbetts and the long-term impact of that abuse." Tibbetts attorney, Erin Barnhart, said the parole board's decision would "irreparably damage the integrity of our criminal justice system." 

Mark Hicks, the nephew of victim Fred Hicks, expressed surprise and frustration that Geiger was able to delay the execution at all. 

"It is absolutely unbelievable to my family and I that we are back here considering clemency for Raymond Tibbetts AGAIN because a juror was surfing the Internet one night," Hicks wrote, pleading for Kasich to go forward with the execution. 

Source:  cincinnati.com, June 22, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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