Death penalty decision harder for jurors than verdict - News, Weather & Sports

Death penalty decision harder for jurors than verdict

William Clyde Gibson William Clyde Gibson
Christine Whitis Christine Whitis
Mike Whitis Mike Whitis
Keith Henderson Keith Henderson
Pat Renn Pat Renn

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - While it took the jury just 17 minutes to find Gibson guilty it was apparent the decision whether or not to sentence a man to death was much harder for jurors.

After nearly four hours of deliberation a jury said they believe William Clyde Gibson deserves the death penalty for the murder of Christine Whitis, 75.

Mike Whitis, the victim's son, said the family could not be more relieved," It's good to realize that 12 of his peers saw that her life was worth the ultimate punishment."

Throughout the trial the jury heard and saw details and evidence so gruesome it brought several jurors to tears.

"We have known of all the details since virtually day one, so not only we were dealing with this tragedy, but we also had this all bottled up inside us that we couldn't talk with anybody about, so it has taken quite a tool on the family."

Prosecutor Keith Henderson believed Gibson deserved the death penalty, but during this trial the jury had no idea he is accused of murdering two other women.

Henderson said, "We have to reserve the worst of the worst for our ultimate penalty and the law of our state is the death penalty is that."

In closing arguments the defense used their expert testimony from Monday to argue to the jury that Gibson battles bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder and substance abuse. But prosecutors said that's no excuse for a man to ever commit a crime like this.

"He's a pretty icy person. I have no feelings for him one way or the other. He is a plague on society and I'm glad he is going to go away," said Whitis.

The defense did not wish to speak with the media throughout the entire trial.

Even though this is considered a recommendation the judge is required to impose the death penalty as decided by a jury in Indiana and Kentucky. 

Law experts said it could easily be 30 years before Gibson is sentenced to death and historically speaking most death sentence recommendations do not end with a inmate being executed.

Attorney Pat Renn said, "Statistics have shown that since 1977, 96 cases where it was imposed in Indiana, 56 of those cases have come back and said we aren't going to give the death penalty because the case has been reversed or there have been another agreement with the prosecutors and there has only been 20 cases where there have been individuals that have actually been executed, the last being in 2009."

All cases are automatically sent to the Supreme Court. There will be a formal sentencing phase, but a judge will be required to impose the death penalty as recommended by the jury.

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