NEW ALBANY – The first of two death penalty trials for a southern Indiana man accused of killing three women has been postponed until September to allow attorneys more time to prepare, but it wont be moved to another location.
Floyd Superior Judge Susan Orth on Tuesday granted a motion by William Clyde Gibsons attorneys to delay his trial in the death of family friend Christine Whitis until Sept. 23. Orth scheduled his second trial for Jan. 22 and denied a defense request for a change of venue.
Instead, Orth ruled that juries for both trials would be selected from another Indiana county and brought to New Albany, the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., reported.
Gibson faces the death penalty in the slayings of Whitis, a 75-year-old Clarksville resident, and 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk of Charlestown. Hes also charged in the death of Port Orange, Fla., resident Karen Hodella, 44.
The strangled and mutilated body of Whitis was found in Gibsons garage in New Albany on April 19, 2012. Kirks body was found buried in his backyard last spring.
Police say Gibson fatally stabbed Hodella in October 2002. Her body was found three months later near the Ohio River in Clarksville.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson isnt seeking the death penalty in Hodellas slaying.
Attorney J. Patrick Biggs, one of three public defenders appointed for Gibson, requested the delay in the Whitis trial, which had been scheduled for July, because he said the defense still needs time to review a transcript of police interviews and to speak with witnesses.
Were doing the best we can, ... (but) we cant control who will talk to us, Biggs told Orth.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen opposed the continuance, saying Gibsons lawyers have had more than enough time to prepare.
Owen said after the hearing that the delay keeps the families of the victims on an emotional roller coaster as they seek justice.
They get their hopes up, Owen said. They get prepared for it mentally. ... Its just a tough thing for them when the proceedings are delayed.
Whitis son Mike said he hopes the trial will bring closure over his mothers death.
Theres not a day that goes by that I dont think about her, he said.