Jury needs 17 minutes to convict Indiana man of murdering mother's 75-year-old best friend

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) -- A jury that took less than 20 minutes Friday to find a southern Indiana man guilty of murder in the death of his late mother's 75-year-old best friend will now decide whether he should face the death penalty.

The jury of eight women and four men was out 17 minutes Friday afternoon before announcing it had found William Clyde Gibson guilty of murder in the death of 75-year-old Christine Whitis, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., reported (HTTP://CJKY.IT/17JMVXO  ). Prosecutors say he lured Whitis to his New Albany home to perform "a perverse sexual fantasy."

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said after the guilty verdict was announced that he's confident jurors will sentence Gibson to death when they convene Monday for the sentencing phase.

"I think the evidence is there," he said.

Defense attorneys have said they won't comment until the trial is over.

Henderson said Whitis' slaying is probably the most disturbing he's ever seen, saying he tried to minimize the gruesome details, including some information about the body mutilation. "So even with the minimal amount that was presented, very disturbing, very gruesome, very difficult," he said.

Henderson said Gibson continued to assault the body even after Whitis was dead.

Gibson also is accused of strangling a 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk, whose remains were found buried in his backyard last year days after his arrest, and in the 2002 stabbing death of Karen Hodella, 44, of Port Orange, Fla. He's to be tried separately in those slayings and also faces the death penalty in Kirk's death.

Before closing arguments Friday, the defense recalled one prosecution witness and called no new witnesses.

The jury of eight women and four men was brought in from Dearborn County, about 100 miles northeast of New Albany, because of extensive media coverage.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, HTTP://WWW.COURIER-JOURNAL.COM

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