INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WDRB) -- Five state Supreme Court justices are now considering the fate of Southern Indiana serial killer William Clyde Gibson.

The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday heard an appeal of Gibson's sentence that could determine whether he lives or dies.

Gibson was sentenced to death in 2013 for the April 19, 2012 murder of family friend, 75-year-old Christine Whitis. He killed Whitis, sexually assaulted her and mutilated her corpse.

Gibson did not attend the hearing, remaining on death row in Michigan City, as attorneys argued his fate.

The five member Supreme Court heard defense attorney Laura Paul argue that Gibson's crime, while brutal, does not rise to the level of previous death penalty cases.

“First of all, this case doesn't involve multiple victims. Secondly, it doesn't involve a child. It doesn't involve a police officer,” Paul told the justices.

But the justices sharply questioned that notion.

“Is there some character value that would warrant our saying life imprisonment instead of the death penalty? What do we have here, anything?” asked Justice Brent Dickson.

“Evidence was presented that he took care of his elderly mother until he died. He was a very talented builder, and a talented artist,” responded Paul.

Paul also argued that jury selection was flawed because the judge limited defense questioning of potential jurors.

The Attorney for the state disagreed.

“The defendant can point to nothing that their ability to select jurors was in any way hampered,” said Deputy Attorney General Andrew Kobe.

Kobe argued the horrific nature of the murder deserves the ultimate punishment.

“There's nothing about the nature of this offense, and the injuries that were suffered by this elderly victim that would make a death sentence inappropriate,” he said.

Whitis' family did not attend, but Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen said they're counting on justice.

“They're hoping that the criminal justice system protects them, and justice prevails,” Owen told reporters.

The justices could take 3-6 months or more to rule on this case. The appeal of Gibson's second death penalty for the murder of Stephanie Kirk, is on the way.

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