Jason Tibbs found guilty in cold case murder of Rayna Rison
A LaPorte County jury found Jason Tibbs guilty in connection to the death of Rayna Rison.
Rison was found dead in 1993. Tibbs was accused of strangling the teenager because she wouldn't date him.
Now that he's been found guilty, Tibbs will likely spend many years behind bars, but just how long has yet to be determined.
The jury for the cold case murder trial deliberated for more than five hours.
Around 5 p.m. central time, the judge gave word that the jury had reached a verdict.
It was guilty.
"I know it's not easy for a jury to make a decision in a case like this," said Prosecutor Chris Fronk. "They certainly took some time and went over the evidence. As always we always appreciate the work that the jurors do."
As soon as the verdict was read the family of Jason Tibbs cried loudly and some hugged one another.
One women simply said, "oh Jesus."
Outside the courtroom Rison's family also cried.
They hugged each other and the prosecutor.
Tibbs will be back in court on December 19th for sentencing.
"Once the judge performs that sentencing there will be a thirty day period before he has to file an appeal and I expect there will be an appeal filed," said Defense Attorney John Tompkins.
Tompkins is one of the defense attorneys who represented Tibbs.
He says he was unpleasantly surprised when he first heard the guilty verdict.
"It's always a possibility no matter how good you feel about a case and no matter how many facts that point towards innocence there are jurors who really want to believe the state can't get something this big this wrong," said Tompkins.
The jurors left the courthouse shortly after giving their verdict.
Most of them didn't want to comment on their decision, but one of the female jurors said the decision was "very, very hard" and another female juror said "yes it was."
Tompkins says he respects the process the jurors went through but he doesn't believe they made the right decision.
"I don't think they were fully informed and I think we would've had a different verdict with more information getting to them," he said.
We also asked Rayna Rison's family for a comment. They declined, saying they were going to take today for their family, but they would speak with us in the coming days.
Be sure to stay with WSBT 22 News and we'll bring their comments to you when they're ready to talk.
ORIGINAL: Closing statements for the prosecution have ended and as soon as the defense's arguments are done the jury is expected to start deliberating the fate of a man accused in a LaPorte cold case murder.Jason Tibbs is accused of strangling teenager Rayna Rison in 1993 because she wouldn't date him.During closing arguments today, WSBT 22's Annie Chang reports Prosecutor Chris Fronk pointed to Tibbs and said, "This defendant killed Rayna Rison."Several people in the packed courtroom were in tears. Chang says Tibbs looked unmoved, taking notes as he has done every day throughout the trial.
Fronk ended his closing arguments with, "Rayna haswaited 21 years to find her killer. Don't let justice delayed become justice denied.
The defense began with, "Nothing could make this story sadder than convicting the wrong person."
Defense attorneys have been pointing to Rison's brother-in-law Ray McCarty as the suspect, instead of Tibbs.McCarty WAS charged with her murder in 1998, but those charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.McCarty was earlier convicted for child molestation after it was discovered he had impregnated Rison.
The jury is now in deliberation on the final verdict for the trial.
Fronk told WSBT 22's Annie Chang that he is confident that they gave the jury all the evidence they needed to make their decision.
Defense Attorny John Tompkins said "I trust the system. I think that they got a fair representation on both sides of this case."
Stay with us online and on the air at midday, 4, 5 and 6 tonight for the latest. You can also follow Annie's live updates from the courtroom here --https://twitter.com/anniechangWSBT