UPDATE: Tibbs sentenced to 40 years in cold case murder of Rayna Rison


More than 20 years after her murder, Rayna Rison's convicted killer learned his fate Friday.

Jason Tibbs, 39, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Because of Indiana's sentencing guidelines, inmates receive a day of freedom for every day served, so Tibbs will ultimately serve less than 20 years. He receives more than 400 days of credit for time already served in prison.

He was convicted Nov. 7 of choking the teenager to death in 1993 after she refused to be his girlfriend.

Police say he dumped her body in a pond. It was found a month later.

It was an incredibly emotional day in court for both sides, especially Rison's family.

One by one, the Risons told Jason Tibbs face-to-face about the pain and suffering he had caused them.

Rayna's father showed the court a video of Rayna's life, from birth to death.

There were baby pictures, and home videos of Rayna opening Christmas gifts and getting ready for the prom.

He then told Jason Tibbs memories are all they have left, because of what he did.

"Hopefully now my family can find some semblance of peace from what we've been through for the last 20 years," Ben Rison said.

Rayna's two sisters also gave victim impact statements.

Lori McCarty gave a scathing statement on the stand, telling Tibbs she would have no problem "flipping the switch" or "pulling the trigger" on him, reiterating he has caused the Rison and McCarty families years of anguish.

The defense objected, but the judge allowed it.

"I think the judge really tried to very seriously consider everything, he was not improperly swayed. But what I had to object to was supposed to be the victim testimony," said Tibbs' defense attorney John Tompkins.

Rayna's younger sister Wendy Hakes asked TIbbs, "If you loved her so much, why did you kill her?" She told Tibbs because of her faith, she forgives him, but will never forget. She asked the judge not to give any leniency.

The prosecution asked for a 55-year sentence.

Ultimately, the judge gave 40, with 20 years served, the state presumptive sentence for a murder committed in 1993.

"Any way you cut it, 20 years out of someone's life is a very significant period of time. That's about how long he's been at liberty since the crime was committed, so in some respects, there is parity there," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for LaPorte County, Chris Fronk.

"We finally got justice for Rayna today. It's never enough, but he'll be there for a while," said Ben Rison.

Tibbs has already decided he will appeal the conviction, and hired a third lawyer named Scott King, based in Merillville. The defense says they have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.

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