COLUMBUS – Today Gov. John R. Kasich granted a reprieve to delay the execution of Cleveland Jackson and commuted the death sentence of Raymond Tibbetts to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jackson had been scheduled to be executed on September 13, 2018 and Tibbetts on October 17, 2018.
Cleveland Jackson was convicted for the 2002 murder of 17-year-old Leneshia Williams and three-year-old Jayla Grant in Lima. The reprieve will delay his execution until May 29, 2019 to allow his newly appointed legal counsel sufficient time to review the case and properly prepare for his clemency hearing before the Parole Board. Jackson’s previous court-appointed counsel withdrew their representation just four months prior to his initially scheduled execution after admitting that they failed to do any work to prepare his clemency application over the course of the previous four years.
Raymond Tibbetts was convicted for the 1997 murders of his wife, Judith Crawford, and the couple’s landlord, Fred Hicks, in Cincinnati. Tibbets’s commutation is being granted as a result of fundamental flaws in sentencing phase of his trial. Specifically, the defense’s failure to present sufficient mitigating evidence, coupled with an inaccurate description of Tibbetts’s childhood by the prosecution, essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.