Hatchet Murder Sentence Gets 'Second Look'

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, March 28 2013 at 5:33 PM, Updated: Thu, March 28 2013 at 9:06 PM

The case of a Klamath County woman serving a life sentence for her role in the brutal hatchet murder of her mother and brother is getting a 'second look'.

Jessica Tibbets was only 14 when she urged her 23 year old boyfriend Raymond Eddings to take a hatchet to her 43 year old mother Bennie Jo Tibbets, and 16 year old brother Billy Ray Tower in 1998.

Klamath County Deputy District Attorney Richard Dalrymple was one of the prosecutors...

"And he struck her in the back of the head - and he hit her, and he hit her, and he hit her when she was down - she stayed down.  And about this time, Billy Ray, the brother, was getting up off the sofa - and the defendant walked over and hit Billy Ray on the side of the head."

Jessica Tibbets and Raymond Eddings then set fire to the house. 

Eddings is serving a life sentence, with no chance for parole.

But since Jessica Tibbets was only 14 at the time, state law allows her to be considered for early release since she's served half of her 30 year minimum sentence.

Jessica Tibbets expressed remorse at today's hearing...

"I wasn't able to be honest at first, because I couldn't deal with the facts yet - I had done those horrible things."

Mary Jane Goverts, a volunteer at Coffee Creek Corrections, says Tibbets has done well in prison...

"She continues to be a model.  And I'll be really honest and say, a model of what can happen when you do take accountability for your crime."

However, several relatives were in court today to argue that Tibbets shouldn't be released, including Betty Sabatini, the twin sister of Bennie Jo Tibbets...

"I have the same face that she killed.  She didn't just kill them, she mutilated them.  With not remorse whatsoever.  Do I think she should go free?  Absolutely not.  No."

Judge Roxanne Osborne did not make a ruling today as to whether or not Tibbets will be released.


About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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