NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – Accused serial killer William Clyde Gibson was found guilty Friday in the murder of Christine Whitis.
The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for 17 minutes.
The capital murder trial, which began October 21, was the first of three murder trials Gibson will face. The 54-year-old Gibson is also charged with killing Stephanie Kirk, 35, of Charlestown, Indiana and Karen Hodella, 45, of Port Orange, Florida over the course of a decade.
Whitis' body was found inside Gibson's garage on Woodbourne Drive in New Albany on April 19, 2012. That's when the case against him began unraveling. Gibson was arrested later that day at the Walmart on Grant Line Road in New Albany. He originally was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
Gibson was accused of sexually assaulting Whitis, 75, a long-time friend of his mother. Police believe Whitis was strangled. Prosecutor Keith Henderson said Gibson then dismembered Whitis' body.
One week Whitis' murder, the body of Stephanie Kirk was discovered buried in Gibson's backyard.
After his arrest for Kirk's murder, police said Gibson confessed to killing Karen Hodella in 2002. A few days after his confession, he was charged with murdering Kirk, who had been missing for more than a month. Police said Gibson admitted using his hands to strangle her for pleasure. Gibson told investigators to search for Kirk's body in two incorrect locations before leading them to his own backyard where both her body and her cell phone were recovered.
A detective testified during a pre-trial hearing that Gibson led police directly to the location where Hodella's body was found in 2003, telling them he stabbed her. Police told a judge Gibson has a tattoo of a knife and the date 10-10-02. Gibson told police that was the day he killed Hodella. October 10 is also Gibson's birthday.
Gibson already had a criminal record when he was charged with the murders. In 1991, he was put on the sex offender registry after he was caught attacking a woman in downtown Louisville.
Gibson's trial in the Whitis case took place in Judge Susan Orth's courtroom in the Floyd County Government Building in New Albany. During the trial, Gibson was represented by public defense attorney Patrick Biggs and his team. Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson and chief deputy prosecutor Steve Owen represented the state.
Because of pre-trial publicity, jurors were selected from a pool of 500 people in Dearborn County, Indiana, near Cincinnati. They were brought to New Albany and sequestered during the trial.
Gibson is facing the death penalty. The sentencing phase will begin Monday at 9 a.m.
WAVE 3 News Reporter Katie Bauer was in the courtroom every day of Gibson's trial. You can continue to follow developments in the sentencing phase of the trial by following Katie on Twitter @wave3katie.
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