Ohio Gov. John Kasich reduced the sentence for a condemned killer who was on death row on Friday after finding out the man was abused in his childhood.
In 1998, Raymond Tibbitts was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of his wife, Judith Crawford, and sentenced to death for the murder of Fred Hicks.
Crawford was hired as a caretaker for Hicks, who allowed the newly married couple to live in his house.
On November 5, 1997, Tibbitts got into an argument with his wife about his crack cocaine habit, which ended with him beating her to death and stabbing her. In the same day, he stabbed Hicks to death and stole his money.
Last year, Tibbitts described the abuse he went through in his childhood in his application for mercy.
As children, Tibbitts and his brothers were often beaten, burned, tied to a bed and fed improperly.
This information was not presented during his trial, which changed the decision of former juror Ross Geiger.
“Mr. Tibbetts’ crimes were terrible, and nothing excuses his guilt,” Geiger wrote in an opinion piece on cleveland.com. “But if I had known all the facts, if the prosecutors had been honest and forthcoming about the horrors he and his siblings experienced in the foster care system, and if we had an accurate understanding of the effects of Mr. Tibbetts’ severe drug and alcohol addiction and his improper opioid prescription, I would have voted for life without parole over death.”
He wrote to Kasich with his concerns and asked him to spare the life of Tibbits.
“I urge Gov. Kasich to show mercy by exercising his power of clemency to commute Mr. Tibbetts’ sentence of death by execution to one of death by lifelong imprisonment.”
He also presented in front of the parole board last month in Tibbitts’ defense, according to CBS.
He explained how the upbringing of Tibbitts was like a debate, where his attorneys believed his background was terrible but the prosecutors believed it was not too bad.
“I was just struck and frankly upset that information that was available was not even addressed, other than in very summary fashion,” Geiger said at the hearing.
Last year, the board voted 11-1 against Tibbitts and this year they voted against his mercy with a vote of 8-1, to Geiger’s dismay.
Kasich decided to reject the board’s ruling and commute the death sentence.
“Specifically, the defense’s failure to present sufficient mitigating evidence, coupled with an inaccurate description of Tibbetts’ childhood by the prosecution, essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death sentence,” Kasich said in a statement according to The Hill.
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