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Monday, November 18, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Need for two more William Clyde Gibson murder trials questioned in Southern Indiana"

Updating this Oct. 29th ILB entry, headed "Jury recommends death for William Clyde Gibson", Grace Schneider of the Louisville Courier Journal has a long story today. Here are some quotes, but don't miss reading the entire story:

Floyd County prosecutor Keith Henderson’s decision to pursue two more murder trials against convicted killer William Clyde Gibson is raising questions in his Southern Indiana community, where some wonder if it’s worth adding to a $2.9 million budget crisis to try a man already sentenced to death.

“Now that he has gotten the death penalty, why the other trials?” asked Cheryl Mills, who, along with other county employees, has been warned that she could lose her job early next year because of the budget crunch.

The county’s financial crisis is due at least in part to having to spend $2.1 million this year on David Camm’s third murder trial, in which he was acquitted, and an estimated $275,000 on Gibson’s first trial last month.

But Henderson, who declined requests to be interviewed for this story, has insisted that money shouldn’t be the focus when seeking justice for the murder victims and their families.

“I won't trade justice for money,” he said after a jury recommended Gibson receive the death sentence last month in the murder of family friend Christine Whitis, 75. * * *

Joel M. Schumm, a law professor at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, said Henderson’s plan to pursue a second death penalty case against a single defendant is not unheard of, but the practice is becoming less common.

“Lethal injection can only be administered once,” he said. “It’s not like (Gibson) can get a second” injection if he is convicted in a second trial. But Schumm said some prosecutors may seek a second death verdict for victims, or if they’re worried about being reversed.

And Henderson acknowledged after the Whitis verdict that he’s not taking chances. “I’ve learned never to predict what a higher court will do,” he said.

Such references point to the Camm trials. The Georgetown man’s convictions in 2002 and 2006 in the murders of his wife and two children were overturned, leading to the third trial this year.

Henderson prosecuted Camm in the second trial, but the Indiana Supreme Court threw out the conviction after finding the prosecution shouldn’t have been allowed to argue that Camm molested his daughter. The court ruled that the allegation was speculative and prejudicial.

The bills from Camm’s third trial are still rolling in, and estimates are that the county’s costs for all three Camm trials combined could exceed $5.4 million. * * *

In Indiana, of 3,442 murders and non-negligent homicides committed between 2001 and 2010, prosecutors sought the death penalty in 38 homicides, nine of which proceeded to trial and six resulted in death sentences, according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Agency.

Death penalty prosecutions and death sentences have declined, the agency reported, in part because of the availability of a sentence of life without parole.

Only Clark and Floyd counties now have pending death penalty cases, against Gibson and against Richard Hooten of Clarksville, noted Paula Sites, assistant executive director of the Indiana Public Defenders Council, who tracks death penalty cases.

In Gibson’s case, the odds are that after three rounds of automatic appeals extending more than 15 years, Gibson, who is 56, most likely won’t die of lethal injection anyway, Schumm said. “He’ll die of natural causes” on death row.

Here is a list of all the ILB entries mentioning William Clyde Gibson.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 18, 2013 08:59 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts