Justice delayed? Juror's letter delays execution in 20-year-old double murder

Juror's letter delays execution in 20-year-old double murder (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - For 20 years, two families have waited for justice. A jury convicted Raymond Tibbetts of murdering his wife and landlord. Tibbetts was supposed to be executed next Tuesday, but a letter from a juror to Ohio Governor John Kasich has delayed it.

When Stephanie Shoe found out the news, it was upsetting. She had a close bond with her aunt, Judith Crawford. Her aunt's murder had a profound impact on Stephanie’s life.

Judith who everyone called, “Sue Bug”, ran into Raymond Tibbetts one night at an Over-the-Rhine bar. The two were old acquaintances. After they reconnected at the bar, Judith and Raymond married shortly after.

“She met up with him and they married and she was dead six weeks later and my other aunt likes to say that she let the devil in her home,” said Stephanie.

The couple lived in a home owned by Fred Hicks. Judith was Fred’s caretaker. In 1997, a family member of Hicks walked into Hicks’ home and found Hicks murdered. Judith was also killed.

“She was stabbed 21 times. The left side of her head was knocked off,” Stephanie said. “He went downstairs and he killed Fred. He stabbed Fred 12 times about different parts of his body and left blades stuck in Fred as well.”

Both families were preparing for Tibbetts’ execution next Tuesday, then came a letter to Governor John Kasich from a man who sat on the jury decades ago.

Erin Barnhart is Tibbetts’ attorney. She said, “Governor Kasich did the right thing here by recognizing how important this new information was.”

There was a clemency hearing last year. The juror's letter claims that evidence of the severe childhood abuse and trauma that Tibbetts suffered was downplayed or not presented. The juror made the same assertion about Tibbetts’ drug addiction. The juror said had he known, he would've decided against the death penalty. He also wrote that the jury instructions weren't clear.

Barnhart said, “We have a juror like Mr. Geiger who took this duty very seriously and made one of the most important decisions of his life on what he now knows is incomplete information.”

It's been a long road for both of the victims' families. Stephanie says they just want it to be over.

“I just don't think it's fair that he's still here and they're not,” she said.

Stephanie says evidence of the abuse was presented to the jury. She sat through the trial and has newspaper reports that documented what was presented to the jury. There's a parole board hearing in August on the case. Stephanie will be there.

Governor Kasich has stayed the execution until October 17th. This gives the parole board time to consider whether to grant Tibbetts clemency.

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