Updated: Friday, July 20, 2018 8:04 pm EST
Ohio Governor John Kasich has granted clemency for Raymond Tibbetts. Prior to this announcement, the Ohio Parole Board recommended 8-1 that Raymond not be granted clemency. Governor Kasich defended his decision to grant clemency by saying that their were "fundamental flaws" in the sentencing phase of Raymond's trial. Raymond death sentence has been commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018 10:34 am EST
Raymond Tibbetts was scheduled to be execution at 10 am EDT, on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Sixty-year-old Raymond is convicted of murdering his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and 67-year-old Fred Hicks on November 6, 1997, inside of Fred’s Cincinnati home, where they all lived. Raymond has spent the last 19 years of his life on Ohio’s death row.
Raymond was granted a temporary reprieve by Ohio Governor John Kasich. Governor Kasich granted the reprieve after receiving a letter from one of the original jurors at Raymond's trial. In the letter, the juror states that they jury was not given adaquate information about Raymond's "truly terrible upbringing," which could have swayed some of the jury members to vote against the death penalty. The juror further elaborated that he was shocked to read in Raymond's recent clemency request that, while in foster care, Raymond and his siblings weren't fed properly, tied to a single bed at night, beaten with spatulas, and burned on the heating register. Governor Kasich has asked the Ohio Parole Board to consider the letter. The Board had previously voted 11-1 against recommending clemency.
Raymond alleged that he had a “miserable” and “horrible” childhood, as his parents were drug users, causing him to be in and out of foster care beginning at an early age. Raymond played football in high school until he suffered a knee injury. At a young age, Raymond began getting into trouble with law enforcement, eventually resulting in prison time.
Fred Hicks suffered from emphysema and had hired Judith Crawford as his live-in caretaker in his Cincinnati, Ohio home. In late September, Judith married Raymond Tibbetts who also moved into Fred’s house. Fred’s sister, Joan Landwehr would often visit with Fred to check on him.
On November 6, 1997, Joan arrived at Fred’s home for a lunch date. Upon knocking and receiving no response, Joan let herself into the house with her spare key. She also noticed that Fred’s vehicle was missing. After entering, Joan went to the second floor where she found her brother’s body slumped in a chair. Fred’s chest and stomach were bloody and the pants pocket where he normally kept his money was turned inside out. Joan immediately called the police.
Police discovered that Fred was still connected to his oxygen tank. He had two knives protruding from his chest, a third knife in his back, and a fourth knife blade broken off in his back. Fred did not have any defensive wounds and the stab wounds punctured his heart, lungs, and aorta.
Police further searched the home and discovered Judith on the third floor. She had been brutally beaten, with her head cracked open and parts of her brain on the floor. Judith was lying in a pool of her own blood and had also been stabbed several times, with a knife still stuck in her neck. Both Fred and Judith had been dead for several hours.
Police discovered no evidence of forced entry. Joan also told police that Tibbetts did not have permission to drive Fred’s vehicle, which was missing. Upon further investigation, police discovered that Tibbetts had been stopped the day of the murder by Kentucky police. Tibbetts had been driving a vehicle matching the description of the missing vehicle.
On November 7, 1997, after Ohio police had issued an arrest warrant, Tibbetts voluntarily checked himself into a psychiatric hospital under a false name in Edgewood, Kentucky. Nurses, however, recognized Tibbetts from a previous stay. Tibbetts was arrested later that day.
DNA testing revealed that the clothing Tibbetts was wearing when he checked himself into the hospital was covered in blood, matching the victims. The vehicle stolen by Tibbetts was also found to have blood inside it.
Tibbetts alleges that he has no memory of the night of the murders. A doctor testified that Tibbetts has a mental illness and was addicted to drugs and alcohol. According to the doctor, Tibbetts lacked the ability to refrain from committing criminal acts, especially when combined with drugs and alcohol. Tibbetts was convicted and sentenced to death.
Raymond Tibbetts has had several previous execution dates, all of which have been postponed or rescheduled due to ongoing legal challenges to Ohio’s execution protocol. Legal challenges began following the January 2014, execution of Dennis McGuire, who was executed using a new two-drug execution process. Dennis’ execution took longer than expected, with debate over whether Dennis was fully unconscious for the execution. An investigation followed the execution, resulting in numerous legal challenges to the execution protocol, and in numerous scheduled executions, including Raymond’s, being delayed.
The investigation has since been concluded, and executions resumed in Ohio on July 26, 2017, with the execution of Ronald Phillips. There were no reported complications during the execution. Following that execution, Ohio Governor John Kasich rescheduled multiple executions, including Raymond’s, spacing them out approximately six weeks apart to ensure that each execution is carried out “in a humane and professional manner.”
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Judith Crawford and Fred Hicks. Please pray for strength for the family of Raymond. Please pray that if Raymond is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Raymond may come to find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.