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Ohio Governor Commutes Another Death Sentence

Ohio Governor John Kasich commuted another death sentence, his seventh, amid concerns from one of the jurors in the case that prosecutors hid crucial details about the defendant’s horrific upbringing and drug problems that would have swayed that juror to vote against the death penalty.

The juror wrote a letter to Kasich after discovering online Raymond Tibbetts’ plea for clemency last year, which detailed his troubled childhood in foster homes. Tibbetts’ plea was denied.

“I have deep concerns about the trial and the way it transpired,” the juror wrote Kasich. “If prosecutors had been honest and forthcoming about the horror Tibbetts and his siblings experienced in the foster system, and [his drug problems], I would have voted for life without parole over death.” The juror’s single vote against the death penalty would have limited Tibbetts’ sentence to life without parole.

After receiving the juror’s letter, Kasich pushed back Tibbetts’ execution date and directed the Ohio Parole Board to reconsider Tibbetts’ application for mercy. The board voted 8 to 1 to deny Tibbetts mercy, even after hearing the juror’s concerns. Kasich said he granted clemency because “fundamental flaws in the sentencing phase of Tibbetts’ trial had prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.”

Kasich also pushed back the execution date of death row prisoner Cleveland Jackson to allow his newly appointed counsel to prepare for a clemency hearing before the parole board, and on March 26, he commuted the death sentence of William Montgomery. Tibbetts’ lawyer praised Kasich’s use of clemency “to correct the failures in the legal process.” 


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