Raymond Tibbetts is due to be executed by the state of Ohio on February 13. Tibbetts suffered “toxic stress” during a traumatic and chaotic childhood, which “negatively affected the development of [his] brain, leading it to become wired in very unhealthy ways”.* The full impact of his childhood was not made plain to his jury during the sentencing phase of his trial, when mitigating factors were considered.
So far, so familiar. Sadly, the executions scheduled by Ohio last year were all for men whose juries were not shown the full extent of their childhood experience, and its impact. This failure did not convince the State of Ohio Adult Parole Authority to recommend clemency for any of them; nor has it done so for Tibbetts.
In Tibbetts’s case, however, one of his jurors, Ross Geiger,† recently found out how much was omitted at Tibbetts’s trial. Geiger is angry that he was
“duped by the system. The state asked me to carry the responsibility for such a decision but withheld information from me that was important.”
He explains the significance of the state’s deception at trial:
“[I]f 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.”
Geiger notes that even his one vote for life without parole would have resulted in Tibbetts avoiding a death sentence.
He has appealed to Governor Kasich to commute the sentence:
“Gov. Kasich… now has proof that [Tibbetts] didn’t receive a fair sentencing. The governor now knows that I would have voted for a life sentence, and Mr. Tibbetts would never have ended up on death row.”
Raymond Tibbetts and Jeffrey Wogenstahl both faced Hamilton County prosecutors at trial. In Jeff’s case no fewer than three jurors have stated that if significant evidence had not been withheld by the prosecution, they might have made different decisions at his trial.
Jeff’s claim of innocence is still being appealed in the courts, but Tibbetts is at the final stage of his request for clemency: only Governor Kasich can now redress the injustice in his case. Life without the possibility of parole is an extremely harsh sentence, but it is what Tibbetts requests. The Governor should accept Geiger’s appeal.
*In Re: RAYMOND TIBBETTS, CCI #A363-178, Minutes of the SPECIAL MEETING of the State of Ohio Adult Parole Authority, held January 17, 2017, page 14, (evidence from Patti Van Eys, licensed psychologist).
†Ross Geiger’s letter to Governor Kasich can be read here.
Update: Governor Kasich has delayed Raymond Tibbetts’s execution from February 13, 2018 to October 17, 2018, so the Ohio Parole Board can consider the concerns of juror, Ross Geiger.