Ohio juror who voted for death penalty 20 years ago now seeks mercy


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

Ross Geiger had doubts about recommending a death sentence 20 years ago for a convicted Ohio killer, concerned about the impact of the offender’s tough childhood on his behavior.

But ultimately, Geiger voted in favor of death for Raymond Tibbetts for killing a Cincinnati man he was staying with.

Today, Geiger has changed his mind. After reviewing documents made available during Tibbetts’ clemency appeal last year, Geiger believes he and other jurors were misled about the “truly terrible conditions” of Tibbetts’ upbringing.

On Jan. 30, Geiger asked Gov. John Kasich to spare Tibbetts, who is set to be executed next Tuesday.

“After reviewing the material, from the perspective of an original juror, I have deep concerns about the trial and the way it transpired,” Geiger wrote. “This is why I am asking you to be merciful.”

Geiger said he didn’t feel like he had a choice at the time. “I felt persuaded the law required me to vote for death in this circumstance,” he told The Associated Press.

The Republican governor is reviewing Tibbetts’ clemency request, said spokesman Jon Keeling.

Tibbetts, 60, was sentenced to die for stabbing Fred Hicks to death at Hicks’ home in 1997. Tibbetts also received life imprisonment for fatally beating and stabbing his wife, 42-year-old Judith Crawford, in 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 argued that Tibbetts’ background doesn’t outweigh his crimes. The parole board voted 11-1 last year against mercy.

Geiger said he was shocked last month reading testimony presented at Tibbetts’ clemency hearing about the conditions Tibbetts and his siblings lived through in foster care.

At night, Tibbetts and his brothers were tied to a single bed at the foster home, weren’t 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.

“In a selfish way, this is about my feeling duped by the system,” Geiger said. “The state asked me to carry the responsibility for such a decision but withheld information from me that was important.”

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