COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Parole Board on Thursday planned to hear from a juror who recommended that a convicted killer be sentenced to death, but now believes he should be spared.
At issue is the case of death row inmate Raymond Tibbetts, who is set to die in October for killing Fred Hicks at Hicks’ Cincinnati home in 1997.
After the parole board voted 11-1 last year against mercy for Tibbetts, ex-juror Ross Geiger came forward and said jurors were not given enough information about Tibbetts’ tough childhood.
In a Jan. 30 letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Geiger said he believes he and other jurors were misled about the “truly terrible conditions” of Tibbetts’ upbringing.
When Tibbetts was a boy, he and his brothers were tied to a single bed at night, were not fed properly, were thrown down stairs, had their fingers beaten with spatulas and were burned on heating registers, according to Tibbetts’ application for mercy last year.
“After reviewing the material, from the perspective of an original juror, I have deep concerns about the trial and the way it transpired,” wrote Geiger. “This is why I am asking you to be merciful.”
In response, the Republican Kasich delayed Tibbetts’ execution to give the parole board a chance to hear directly from Geiger and consider his claim.
In addition to the death sentence for killing Hicks, the 61-year-old Tibbetts also received life imprisonment for fatally beating and stabbing his wife, 42-year-old Judith Crawford, during an argument that same day over Tibbetts’ crack cocaine habit.
The 67-year-old Hicks had hired Crawford as a caretaker and allowed the couple to stay with him.
Hamilton County prosecutors have previously argued that Tibbetts’ background does not outweigh his crimes. That includes stabbing Crawford after he had already beaten her to death, and then repeatedly stabbing Hicks, a “sick, defenseless, hearing-impaired man in whose home Tibbetts lived,” they told the parole board.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.