Raymond Tibbetts, a 61-year-old Ohio man who had been sentenced to death for killing his wife and another man more than 20 years ago, has had his sentence commuted after horrific levels of childhood abuse was revealed in multiple clemency applications, according to CBS News.
Even so, Tibbetts had to depend on Governor John Kasich for helping him live, as jurors who had reviewed his clemency application had rejected him at least twice. Kasich cited “fundamental flaws” in Tibbetts’ sentencing, saying jurors had not been accurately informed about the childhood trauma he experienced by the prosecutors.
“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.
Tibbetts had been sentenced to death for fatally stabbing his wife, 42-year-old Judith Crawford, in 1997, as well as killing Fred Hicks, a 67-year-old man who employed Crawford as a caretaker and allowed both of them to live in his house. Tibbetts had killed his wife in a rage after the latter had confronted him about his crack cocaine habit.
Tibbetts’ case was closed and he would have been executed had some astonishing details about his childhood not come across one of his jurors, Ross Geiger. He reviewed details submitted on Tibbetts’ behalf to the Ohio Parole Board, where horrific facts about the extent of child abuse he suffered came to light.
According to the clemency applications, Tibbetts and his brothers were tied to a single bed at night when they were children and received regular beatings, including been thrown downstairs, having their fingers beaten with spatulas, and been burned on heating registers. This was in addition to none of the boys being properly fed, leading to understandable psychological anxieties and behavioral problems in the convicted killer.
Knowing all these facts, Geiger pushed for Tibbetts being granted clemency and wrote to Kasich earlier this year. He also testified in front of Ohio’s Parole Board, arguing that the jurors had sentenced him to death not knowing the details of his childhood to the extent that he now knew. Had they known about the horrific levels of abuse, he argued, they would certainly not have asked for him to be executed.
“Our deliberation on death came down to the single question of whether Mr. Tibbetts’ upbringing was such that his life should be spared. We did not know the facts,” Geiger wrote in Cleveland.com earlier this year.
But his clemency application was rejected, forcing Kasich to veto a pardon for the Ohio man.