NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – After four days of testimony, the prosecution rested its case Thursday afternoon in the trial against William Clyde Gibson for the murder of Christine Whitis.
After hearing from 21 witnesses the state called Mike Whitis, the son and only child of Christine Whitis, to the stand.
Although he has known Gibson his entire life, Whitis said the last time he saw him was at the funeral for Gibson's mother in January 2012. According to Whitis, he and Gibson were friends when they were younger, but became acquaintances as they became adults.
When Whitis was asked by Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson to identify his mother's purse and its contents, he began to break down as the items were shown. Whitis said his mother usually carried about $200 on her. Only 11 cents was found in her purse at the crime scene.
Whitis said his mother would always stand up for the underdog and she wanted to help Gibson in any way she could.
Detective Brad Powell with the Floyd County Sheriff's Office, two waitresses from Hooters and Robert Getrost, who lived in the apartment complex near Gibson's house were also called to testify.
Powell said he was called in to investigate Christine Whitis' cell phone. After reviewing her phone records, Powell testified Gibson called her twice - once at 10:53 a.m. on April 18, then at 12:05 p.m. The last phone call Christine Whitis made was to Gibson.
After 12:05 p.m. no more calls were answered. She had 31 missed phone calls.
Hannah Finchum, a Hooters server, took the stand and said she saw Gibson around noon on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at the Hooters carwash in Clarksville. Finchum said she never talked to Gibson, but noticed him sitting at a patio table drinking beer. Hours later Finchum said Gibson asked the have the vehicle he was driving washed. That vehicle was Whitis' van blue minivan.
A second Hooters server, Paige Craig, said she also remembered Gibson at the car wash. Craig testified she went up to him and asked him if he needed anything. She said Gibson ignored her.
Henderson said this trial has been one of the most emotional he has ever been involved in. Several law enforcement veteran officers that took the stand testified it's unlike any cases they've seen.
"Unfortunately there is no way to white wash or make look pretty, the type of gruesome that we are dealing with," said Henderson.
The jury has been shown graphic pictures and videos of Christine Whitis, prompting some of them to tears. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy, Dr. Amy Burrows-Beckham, testified Whitis died from manual strangulation and had multiple blunt force injuries to her face as well as sexual assault injuries. Whitis' ribs and back were broken and she believed that occurred that after death.
Burrows-Beckham also said on the stand that Whitis could have lived several hours after her initial attack. She believes Whitis was alive when her head was beaten and the sexual assault occurred.
"It's important that we show that many of these injuries occurred while she was alive, some of those injuries were port mortem, according to the evidence today, but many of those was while she was alive and that's extremely revenant to this case to show what Ms. Whitis had to go through before her death," said Henderson.
She believed Whitis was dead at least 24 hours before being discovered, but said it's too difficult to find an exact time of death.
The defense pointed out in cross there is a lack of certainty on what caused some of Whitis' sexual assault injuries.
"I think we've shown through the evidence today that this wasn't a quick death," said Henderson.
Getrost testified on the day before Whitis' body was discovered, Gibson invited him over to his house to drink whiskey and smoke dope. Getrost said on the stand he had no idea a 75-year-old woman was dead in the garage. He told the jury Gibson was not acting strange in any way. He said he didn't seem overly intoxicated or extremely sad or happy.
While there is a confession by Gibson in this case, it must go to trial because if Gibson is convicted he faces the death penalty. A not guilty plea was automatically entered on behalf of Gibson. It is now up to the State of Indiana to prove its case on why they believe Gibson deserves death.
Gibson's defense will begin presenting its case Friday morning.
WAVE 3 News Reporter Katie Bauer has been sitting in on the trial. Follow her lie updates from the courtroom by following her on Twitter @wave3Katie.