Friday, July 06, 2001

Ohio's top court backs death sentence for killer

By Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the death sentence Thursday for double-murderer Raymond Tibbetts.

        Convicted of the 1997 stabbing and beating deaths of his wife and landlord in Over-the-Rhine, Mr. Tibbetts had asked the high court to declare a mistrial because he said his legal team did a poor job.

        Among other things, he said his defense attorneys should have pushed a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

        During oral arguments in January, attorney A. Norman Aubin said a blackout Mr. Tibbetts suffered the night of the murders, a history of psychiatric problems and Mr. Tibbetts' arrest at the psychiatric unit of St. Elizabeth Hospital would have provided strong elements for an insanity defense.

        The high court's 7-0 decision found no problems with the trial or with Mr. Tibbetts' trial attorneys.

        “An insanity defense required proof that Tibbetts "did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of (his) acts,'” Justice Andrew Douglas wrote for the court.

        “The defense's own psychiatric expert, Dr. Glen Weaver, examined Tibbetts on three separate occasions prior to trial and believed that Tibbetts would not have qualified for the insanity plea.”

        With the conviction upheld, Mr. Tibbetts' case will move into federal courts for further appeals.

        Death-penalty cases typically take up to 10 years or longer in state and federal courts before an execution is carried out.

        Police found a grisly scene four years ago in the home Mr. Tibbetts shared with his recently married wife, Judith Sue Crawford and homeowner Fred Hicks, a retired electrician who had emphysema.

        Mr. Hicks had been stabbed 12 times. Four knives were stuck in his body and others with bent blades were found on the floor.

        Upstairs, Ms. Crawford had been struck several times in the head with a baseball bat. She had been stabbed 21 times and covered with a sheet.

        A store security camera recorded Mr. Hicks' car leaving the house the day of the murders. Two days later, Covington police found Mr. Tibbetts in the car.


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