Sentencing phase begins for convicted murderer Gibson - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sentencing phase begins for convicted murderer Gibson

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Life or death: that is a decision a jury must make for William Clyde Gibson.

That jury took less than 20 minutes to convict William Clyde Gibson III of murder, and is now deciding his fate.

Gibson was convicted of murdering 74-year-old Christine Whitis in April 2012 and could face the death penalty.

WDRB's Lawrence Smith describes this sentencing phase as "a second mini-trial" in which prosecutors present the jury with "aggravators" -- namely, case facts prosecutors feel should persuade the jurors to agree to the death penalty. Among the aggravators: the allegation that Gibson dismembered one of his victims by cutting her breast, and the fact that he was on probation when he murdered Whitis.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson told WDRB's Lawrence Smith that the death penalty is needed here.

"If this case isn't death penalty worthy, then there are none," Henderson said. "I'm sure there are cases as bad, in need of this, but if not this case, then there are no cases."

"It's a tough decision to file the death penalty," he added. "It's a tough decision to follow through with the death penalty, but at the same time, it is our law, and, again, if not this case, what case?"

The defense will present "mitigators" -- reasons he should not be put to death. They're expected to show that Gibson had a "miserable" childhood with an abusive father. The defense team is also expected to say that Gibson suffered from mental illness made worse by drugs and alcohol, and that Gibson tried to commit suicide in jail.

Prosecutors say they will present one witness, Gibson's probation officer. The defense will call three: Gibson's sister, a psychologist and the former head of the Indiana Corrections Department, to show what life is like in the Indiana prison system.

Gibson is also accused of killing 53-year-old Karen Hodella in 2002 and 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk in 2012. Kirk's body was found a week after police discovered Whitis' body. Kirk had been missing for more than a month before her body was discovered.

Gibson will face separate trials in those murders. 

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