A juror who recommended death for a Cincinnati killer who’s set for execution next week now says he’d like the governor to spare that condemned man’s life.
Ross Geiger of Loveland in southwest Ohio has only been on one jury – the August 1998 trial in Hamilton County of Raymond Tibbetts, accused of beating his wife Judith with a baseball bat and then repeatedly stabbing her and their landlord Fred Hicks in their Cincinnati apartment the year before. “I would not wish for anybody to have to sit on a capital murder case and review all the horrific evidence and just hear the testimony about family members being brutally taken away from them,” Geiger said.
Geiger says there was never a doubt that Tibbetts was guilty. And as a member of the jury, Geiger did recommend death for Tibbetts. “I don’t have any particular regret about the decision I made at the time. My concern, and the reason I wrote the letter to the governor, is because after the fact and many years after the fact, there’s information that was available but not presented to the jury in the sentencing phase.”
In his four-page letter to Gov. John Kasich, Geiger says he reviewed publicly available information from the clemency hearing on Tibbetts a year ago. And he now says that he feels the abuse and abandonment Tibbetts suffered as a child were downplayed or even withheld to him and his fellow jurors. “I can only suggest to you that based on the data that I’ve seen from the clemency hearing on both sides is that, my decision likely, based on the abuse, would have been to recommend life without parole for the Hicks murder,” Geiger said.
Tibbetts was sentenced to death for the murder of Fred Hicks, but life in prison for the murder of his wife Judith – which Geiger says is also a concern for him.
Geiger says he’s not on a crusade against the death penalty or to save Tibbetts’ life, and says his feelings about the death penalty are complicated, but that sometimes it’s warranted. But he says this isn’t just about the Tibbetts case. “My concern here is with the fact that jurors are put in a situation to make these recommendations and not have all the information that was available to the prosecutors and the defense team so that they can make an informed decision," Geiger said.
A spokesman for Kasich says the governor is reviewing the Raymond Tibbetts case. Though the parole board recommended against clemency last March, Kasich has not yet issued a decision. Tibbetts is set to be executed February 13.