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May 2, 2013

Gibson continuance hearing set

Judge to make ruling on motion Tuesday

NEW ALBANY —

A defense motion for continuance in the first of three William Clyde Gibson III murder trials submitted Wednesday will be ruled on at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Susan Orth said arguments from both the prosecution and defense will be heard at that time. 

Gibson, 54, formerly of the 800 block of Woodbourne Drive in New Albany, will be tried separately in the murders of Christine Whitis, 75, Karen Hodella, 45, and Stephanie Kirk, 35. The jury for the Whitis trial was expected to be selected in June with the trial to begin in July.

However, the defense team led by public defender Patrick Biggs says it needs more time.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said he was prepared to argue against the motion at Wednesday’s hearing and hopes the trial will start on time in July.

“We will vehemently oppose it,” Henderson said of the defense motion for continuance. “Everything was on track last week [at a hearing] but this is part of the process. It’s been over a year. The defense has had ample time to get a case prepared.”

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.

“They say their experts need more time,” Henderson said of why the continuance motion was filed. “I expected today to have that argument.”

Henderson said if the first trial is delayed for only a few weeks, it shouldn’t delay the other two trials. The second death penalty case will likely go to trial in January 2014.

The jury will be selected from Dearborn County. More than 800 questionnaires were mailed to potential jurors. Several have already been eliminated due to age, illness and some are deceased.

Biggs was not available for comment.

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