Gibson's guilty murder plea to save Floyd County time, money - News, Weather & Sports

Gibson's guilty murder plea to save Floyd County time, money

William Clyde Gibson (Pool photo: Scott Utterback, The Courier-Journal) William Clyde Gibson (Pool photo: Scott Utterback, The Courier-Journal)
Stephanie Kirk (Source: Family photo) Stephanie Kirk (Source: Family photo)
Karen Hodella (Source: WAVE 3 Archives) Karen Hodella (Source: WAVE 3 Archives)
Christine Whitis (Source: Family photo) Christine Whitis (Source: Family photo)
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - One day after William Clyde Gibson pleaded guilty to the murder of Stephanie Kirk, the Floyd County Prosecutor spoke out about the latest development in the case.

By pleading guilty in the death penalty case, Gibson waived his right to have his punishment decided by a jury. The decision to allow a judge to decide his fate in his third murder case could save the county both time and money.

"I was surprised," said Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson. "There has been other times, but not many times, that someone has pled guilty to a death penalty case."

Kirk died at the hands of Gibson in late March 2012. Gibson buried her body in the backyard of his New Albany home.

"Pleading as charged," began Henderson, "doesn't get any better for the state and for the victim's family than that. So, it saves them the emotional struggle of a trial and the uncertainty with a jury. Lastly, sure it saves expenses as well."

Had Gibson not pleaded guilty to Kirk's murder, Floyd County would have been preparing for his second murder trial. Gibson was already convicted and sentenced to death for killing Christine Whitis and been sentenced to 65 years for the murder of Karen Hodella after pleading guilty.

While Henderson said he did not know Gibson's motive for pleading guilty, he acknowledged that Gibson's decision came just one day after he sat through jury selection for Kirk's pending murder trial.

"He's required to be present during the jury selection process," began Henderson. "So that first twelve hour day where we're closely examining, you know, views of prospective jurors, views on the death penalty, views of other punishment. I'm going to assume that something occurred during that twelve hours of him sitting at counsel table that caused him to have a change of mind."

Although pleased with Gibson's guilty plea, Henderson said Kirk's family intended to continue to pursue the death penalty.

"The state will seek the death penalty and ask the judge to impose it," said Henderson. "I believe {Kirk} is very supportive of that."

Gibson will go before Floyd Superior Court Judge Susan Orth for a sentencing hearing on July 28 at 9 a.m.

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