By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
Jurors are expected to reach a verdict Friday, deciding whether or not William Clyde Gibson III is guilty of murdering Christine Whitis — a crime he admitted to committing the day after his arrest in April 2012.
Gibson's defense began its brief argument this morning and called only one witness, New Albany police Detective Ken Fudge, before resting its case.
Lead, court-appointed defense counsel J. Patrick Biggs showed photographs of Gibson's garage, after Whitis' body had been removed, during Fudge's testimony. Biggs attacked a theory previously offered by Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson earlier in the trial that Gibson had planned to use trash bags and a chain saw to remove Whitis' body from the garage.
Henderson had showed photographs Wednesday of Whitis' contorted body on the garage floor, where an opened box of trash bags and a chainsaw lie near by.
“We believe by the placement of the Glad trash bags near the body of Mrs. Whitis as well as the location of chain saw suggest evidence he [Gibson] was going to dispose of the body,” Henderson said. “We know from his own statement that he was going to have to dispose of the body in some way, shape or form.”
Biggs used the photographs Friday morning to show the jury that additional boxes of trash bags and a second chain saw were in Gibson's home and garage, in an attempt to minimize the possible criminal intent of the saw and trash bags found next to Whitis' remains.
During a break in the trail after the defense had rested, Henderson explained that in this phase of the trial jurors are only being tasked with determining whether Gibson is guilty or not, not his possible penalty.
“They [the jurors] are simply asked to return a verdict, guilty or not guilty, on one count of murder,” Henderson said. “If the jury comes back guilty, they will immediately be instructed there will be phase two.”
With a guilty verdict, the trial will proceed to a penalty phase, Henderson said, at which time the jury will decide to sentence Gibson to death, life in prison without the chance of parole or a term in prison.
If the jury decides to sentence Gibson to death or life in prison, presiding Judge Susan
Orth is required to hand down the punishment. If the jury chooses a term of years in prison, Orth has the discretion to determine how long Gibson will be placed in the Indiana Department of Correction.
“I am confident that there is sufficient evidence for the jury to come back guilty,” Henderson said.
Biggs has denied making any public comment about the case throughout the trial, which began in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 Monday.
During the defense's argument, no reference was made to Gibson's admission of murdering Whitis the day after his arrest April 20, 2012.