NEW ALBANY —
Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Susan Orth has granted a continuance in the first of three upcoming murder trials for William Clyde Gibson III.
The trial in the murder of 75-year-old Christine Whitis was slated to begin July 15, but Orth scheduled jury selection to now start Sept. 23. She made the decision Tuesday morning.
Gibson, 54, formerly of the 800 block of Woodbourne Drive in New Albany, will be tried separately in the murders of Whitis, Karen Hodella, 45, and Stephanie Kirk, 35. In the deaths of Whitis and Kirk, Gibson faces the death penalty.
Whitis was found strangled in Gibson’s garage April 19, 2012, and Kirk, who had been missing, was found buried in his backyard eight days later. Hodella was found murdered near the Ohio River in January 2003. She had been missing since October 2002.
The jury will be selected from Dearborn County residents. More than 800 questionnaires were mailed to potential jurors there.
Both the defense and prosecution argued their case in front of Orth on Tuesday morning. Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen told the court that the defense has had ample time to put a case together and there had already been three continuances granted. He said it’s time for the trial to begin.
“We do not want to impede the ability of the defense to prepare a proper case, but I do think there is a reason why the defense does not want this case to go to trial quickly,” Owen said. “But we can’t ignore what this is doing to other people involved in the case. It’s hard for me to tell the victims there is a trial date set, but a month before have to tell them it’s not going to happen. Justice delayed sometimes is justice denied.”
Public defense attorney Patrick Biggs said his defense team needs more time since it does not have the luxury of having police agencies collect evidence and help with the investigation like the prosecution does.