By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
The murder trial of William Clyde Gibson III began this morning in a Floyd County court where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the New Albany man who is accused of murdering a 75-year-old woman last year.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson told the jury — which was selected and ushered in from Dearborn County — that Gibson sexually assaulted Christine Whitis, Clarksville, before killing the woman in his Woodbourne Drive home in April 2012. Henderson said Whitis and Gibson knew each other, as she had been the best friend of his mother, who passed months before he called Whitis’ cell phone April 18.
Gibson reached Whitis about 10:50 a.m., but she was preoccupied with a doctor’s visit and called Gibson back minutes after noon, Henderson told the jurors. Henderson claimed Gibson used the pretense that he was grieving from his mother’s passing to lure Whitis to his home. He said Gibson treated Whitis as his “prey” after she came to the home to give her support.
During the opening remarks, Henderson showed a color photograph of Whitis on a large projection screen and described her as an active, vibrant and healthy widow with a strong relationship with her son and grandchildren.
“She is loved and she loved,” Henderson said as he introduced the case to the jurors.
Once Whitis had entered Gibson’s home, which was in probate status and had previously belonged to his mother, he quickly began his sexual assault, Henderson said.
“As he brought her in, he knew what he was going to do to her,” Henderson said, adding that once the assault began, “There was no one to hear her scream. There was no one to hear her cries.”
He said the brutal assault left Whitis with bite marks on her genital area and evidence that Gibson had inserted his fist into her vagina.
The next day, with Whitis in the home’s attached garage, Henderson said Gibson cut off her breast as “a trophy” before he went for lunch at Hooters in Whitis’ vehicle.
While Gibson was away from the home, one of his sisters came to the house, found the remains in the garage and called authorities.
Gibson was located driving Whitis’ minivan and he was apprehended at the Grant Line Road Walmart.
Henderson’s first three witnesses have been all been officers with the New Albany Police Department who responded to Gibson’s home about 3 p.m. April 19, 2012.
The trial is being held in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 with Judge Susan Orth presiding.
Gibson is being represented by attorneys J. Patrick Biggs and George Streib. The trial is expected to last two weeks, according to court officials.