By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
The first of three murder trials for accused serial killer William Clyde Gibson III, 54, has been delayed until July.
Gibson was scheduled to stand trial for the murder of 75-year-old Christine Whitis, of Clarksville, beginning Feb. 18, 2013. But during a hearing in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 on Thursday, Judge Susan Orth rescheduled the trial to instead begin July 15. Orth’s decision followed a request for a continuance made by Gibson’s defense attorneys
During Thursday’s hearing Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson objected to the continuance, but following the proceeding he said the July court date is more realistic for a case of such magnitude.
“It is not unusual for a court to grant, at least, a first continuance with the amount of work that needs to be done by the defense,” Henderson said. “Obviously, as the State, we always look to expedite. We want to keep things moving, but I am not surprised.”
Henderson added that he hopes additional continuances will not be granted and that the trial will begin in July.
“This [delay] prolongs the victims’ agony, if you will, of keeping sort of an open wound,” Henderson said. “Everyone, but especially the victims’ families, want closure. We are very much aware of that, and that is what we strive for.”
Henderson said prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court officials are working together to move the proceedings along, adding the process of scheduling three murder trials with three counsels for the same defendant presents unique scheduling obstacles.
“We are trying to do this efficiently as possible, and not duplicate [evidentiary] pictures times three, or statements times three,” he said, adding that it is important for Gibson’s attorneys to have appropriate time to prepare a proper defense.
Following the first trial, Gibson will be tried a second time, in the murder of Stephanie Kirk, 35, of Charlestown, who was found buried in Gibson’s backyard in the 800 block of Woodbourne Drive in New Albany on April 27.
Henderson previously said he will be seeking the death penalty in each of the trials.
Gibson will also face a third, non-capital, trial for the killing of 45-year-old Karen Hodella, who was found murdered near the Ohio River in January 2003.
Orth also scheduled the jury selection of the July 15 murder trial to begin on June 24.
It was previously determined that the jury pool will be selected from Dearborn County located near Cincinnati.
Henderson said he expects 100 to 200 people to make up the jury pool.
Attorneys are scheduled to meet for a pretrial conference Feb. 13.