New Albany man sentenced to death awaits fate for 3rd murder conviction


by Karma Dickerson

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 1:32 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Testimony is underway for the second day in the sentencing trial of New Albany serial killer William Clyde Gibson.

Gibson, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Christine Whitis, and to 65 years in prison for the murder of Karen Hodella, is now waiting to hear is fate in connection with the murder of Stephanie Kirk.

Prosecutors said they want the judge to impose the death penalty for this case as well.

Tuesday, people closest to Gibson took the stand.

Gibson’s sister and ex-wife testified for the defense. His sister described a difficult childhood and a long-standing problem of alcohol abuse. His ex-wife said they divorced mainly because of his drinking and unexplained disappearances.

Both women said he was devastated by the death of his mother, an argument the defense has used to explain his crimes.

“I think she's confused somewhere, maybe lost, don't know how to get home,” Tony Kirk, Stephanie’s father, said a month after she went missing.

Tony Kirk had had no way of knowing it at the time, but his daughter was already dead and her killer was already in jail.

After Whitis was found in Gibson’s garage, police said he admitted to killing the 75-year-old, but he also admitted to killing two other women. Hodella, whose body was found along the bank of the Ohio River in 2002 and Stephanie Kirk, who police said Gibson admitted to burying in the back yard of his New Albany home.

In court, prosecutors showed evidence of sexual assault, trying to prove aggravating circumstances that would allow the judge to impose a death sentence. Prosecutors said appeals from an earlier conviction and sentencing would not slow down the first execution.

“They're on separate tracks, there's no overlap,” Floyd County prosecutor Keith Henderson said.

We expect to hear more from defense witnesses Tuesday, but again, Gibson has pleaded guilty to the this crime – the murder of Stephanie Kirk -- and the proceedings are to help the judge decide whether to impose death, life in  prison, or another number of years behind bars.

Proceedings expected to wrap up Wednesday.