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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The jury in the William Clyde Gibson case has sentenced Gibson to death.
Last week, Gibson was convicted of murdering 74-year-old Christine Whitis in April 2012. Today, jurors were asked to decide whether Gibson should live or die.
WDRB's Emily Mieure was inside the courtroom as jurors announced their decision.
"It was quiet as you
can imagine," she said. "The courtroom was packed. Probably 15 people representing Whitis'
family there. They were all embracing each other as they heard the judge read
the jury's decision. When they heard the words 'death penalty' there was almost
a gasp, but one of relief."
Mieure said several jurors were weeping as they announced the decision, but Gibson showed "virtually no reaction...which has been pretty much the case the whole time."
Afterward, Mike Whitis, the victim's son, signaled his relief.
"Justice, I guess, has
been served," he said. "It's not gonna bring Mom back, but it's good to realize that 12 of
his peers saw that her life was worth the ultimate punishment. As I said, that's
a little -- a little bit of...I don't know. I'm kind of overwhelmed right
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson was pleased, but subdued, about the decision.
"This is the outcome
we thought was appropriate for the crime that was committed," Henderson said. "Difficult for a
jury. It's the ultimate penalty. But again, as I asked the jury in the closing,
if this case isn't a death penalty case, then what is?"
Jurors got the case at 11:37 a.m. They had three sentencing options: Gibson could have received the death penalty, life without parole or another sentence. If the jury chose either of the first two options that would have been the final decision, and the judge's approval would not be needed. If they chose the third option, the judge would have had to impose a sentence ranging from 35 to 65 years.
In his closing arguments, Prosecutor Keith Henderson said the evidence is what he called "uncontroverted" that Gibson sexually assaulted Christine Whitis, that he dismembered her body, and that he was on parole at the time. Any one of those factors make him eligible for the death penalty.
Henderson says Whitis' memory would be diminished by anything less.
In closing arguments for the defense, Gibson's attorney said his client was under the influence of extreme mental and emotional disturbance, substance abuse, and borderline personality disorder. He told jurors they will decide whether Gibson would be strapped to a gurney and given poison or whether he dies behind bars and razor wire.