BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
After challenging the judge and the fairness of his trial Thursday, Raymond Tibbetts was sentenced to die on Nov. 5, the one-year anniversary of the killings he was convicted of.
Relatives of his victims -- his wife, Judith Sue Crawford Tibbets, and the man she tended to, Fred Hicks -- said he deserves to die. They cried and released a sigh of relief when Judge Patrick Dinkelacker of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court sentenced Mr. Tibbets to death.
"I feel like this load has been lifted off my chest," said Mr. Hicks' daughter, Debra Hicks-White, after the sentencing. She and other family members have filled Judge Dinkelacker's courtroom the past month for the trial. Mr. Tibbets' death will be justice, she said.
A Hamilton County jury found Mr. Tibbets guilty Aug. 10 of aggravated murder for the deaths of Mrs. Tibbets and Mr. Hicks. They were killed Nov. 5, 1997, in their home in the Mohawk section of Over-the-Rhine. She was beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed 21 times. Mr. Hicks was stabbed 12 times. The jury recommended Aug. 13 that Mr. Tibbets should die.
On Thursday, after defense attorneys argued to spare his life, Mr. Tibbets lashed out and challenged Judge Dinkelacker: "I didn't have a chance. I know what you are going to do, so go ahead and do it."
The judge responded by sentencing him to die Nov. 5.
"I hope God has more mercy on you than you had on Judith Sue Crawford and Fred Hicks," Judge Dinkelacker said. He called the deaths the most vicious he has ever had to deal with.
The death date will likely be delayed once the standard series of appeals begins, said prosecutor Gerry Krumplebeck. There has not been an execution in Ohio in three decades.
The victims' families are struggling to deal with the deaths, but have found comfort in each other, said Stephanie Crawford, a niece of Mrs. Tibbets. Recently, her family gathered at the cemetery where Mrs. Tibbets is buried to remember her.
On Mr. Hicks' birthday, his sister Joan Hicks-Landwehr took a cake to his favorite tavern for his friends.
"We all have lost so much," she said.