Prosecutors to seek death penalty against accused serial killer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Prosecutors to seek death penalty against accused serial killer

Posted: Updated: May 29, 2012 12:55 PM EDT
William Clyde Gibson (source: Floyd County Jail) William Clyde Gibson (source: Floyd County Jail)
Stephanie Kirk (source: family photo) Stephanie Kirk (source: family photo)
Stephanie Kirk's father, Tony Kirk Stephanie Kirk's father, Tony Kirk

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- "...if these two cases are not candidates for the death penalty, then I don't think any case would be."

That was prosecutor Keith Henderson's comment as he announced he will seek the death penalty against William Clyde Gibson in the cases of two out of three murders he's accused of.

Gibson is accused of killing 75-year-old Christine Whitis, 53-year-old Karen Hodella, and 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk. Kirk's remains were found buried in the backyard of Gibson's New Albany home last month. Gibson wasn't formally charged with Kirk's murder until a court appearance on Wednesday.

Henderson said he is asking for the death penalty in the cases of Whitis and Kirk.

As proceedings began, Gibson was shuffled into the courtroom. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit, wore shackles on his hands and feet, and appeared emotionless.

This reporter counted 12 uniformed law enforcement officers in the room, most of whom were with the Floyd County Sheriff's Office. Two of those officers guarded the front of the courtroom, while one stood directly behind Gibson at all times. The rest lined the back wall.

During Wednesday's proceedings, prosecutors announced their intentions to seek the death penalty. Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson cited "aggravating factors" in Whitus's murder.

Some of those aggravating factors had not been released publically. Among them: a disturbing allegation about the death of Whitus.

Henderson says Whitus was mutilated -- specifically that her breast had been cut.  Gibson is also accused of sexually abusing Kirk and Whitus before they were killed.

"The allegation that the state has made is that he has dismembered the body by cutting the breast of the victim. Under Indiana law, that may be considered dismemberment," Henderson said.    
 
As far as a motive for why the mutilation took place, Henderson told reporters at a press conference that "it would only be speculating as to why. As we move forward and prepare for trial, we really take a hard look at motive. The state doesn't have to prove motive, but people want to know." 
 
When asked whether there could be more victims discovered eventually, Henderson said, "I wouldn't rule out that possibility as we move forward."
 
Gibson showed no emotion during Wednesday's court appearance. 
 
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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