- By Laura A. Bischoff Columbus bureau
Gov. John Kasich is delaying the execution of Raymond Tibbetts after receiving a letter from a juror on his case, saying he should be spared.
The governor moved Tibbetts’ scheduled execution from Feb. 13 to Oct. 17 and asked the Ohio Parole Board to review the letter and consider the issue it raises. The parole board voted 11-1 in March 2017 to recommend against clemency for Tibbetts.
Tibbetts was convicted for the 1997 murders of his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and the couple’s landlord, Fred Hicks. Crawford was beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed. Hicks died of stab wounds.
Juror Ross Geiger said in a four-page letter to Kasich on Jan. 30 that he has “deep concerns about the trial and the way it transpired.”
Geiger said defense attorneys did not present evidence of Tibbetts’ troubled childhood, drug abuse, prescription painkillers during the sentencing phase of the case. Geiger, of Loveland, said he only learned of the details recently while reading the clemency report.
“Governor, if we are going to have a legal process that can send criminals to death that includes a special phase for mitigation shouldn’t we get it right?” he told Kasich in the letter.
His application for clemency said that Tibbetts’ father was an abusive alcoholic and his mother was a drug addict and the couple had a violent relationship. Tibbetts bounced among abusive foster families, an orphanage and juvenile detention facilities.
Erin Barnhart, the federal public defender for Tibbetts, said in a written statement “Gov. Kasich acted in the interests of fairness and justice by recognizing new information provided by a juror from Mr. Tibbetts’ trial merits careful additional consideration.”
Barnhart noted that a single juror’s vote for life in prison would have made Tibbetts ineligible for a death sentence.
In November, Kasich issued a reprieve for Alva Campbell, Jr., moving his execution date to June 15, 2019 after Campbell’s November execution was halted because staff couldn’t find a suitable vein for the lethal injection process.
The Ohio Constitution grants governor’s extraordinary power to grant clemency — pardons, paroles, commutations or reprieves. Fourteen inmates have been executed since Kasich took office in January 2011, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.