Finding the trial court did not err or abuse its discretion during the selection of jurors for the murder trial of William Clyde Gibson II, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed his death penalty sentence.
Gibson appealed his sentence on several grounds including an argument against how the jury was empanelled. However in William Clyde Gibson II v. State of Indiana, 22S00-1206-DP-359, the Indiana Supreme Court did not find any reason to reverse the Floyd Superior Court.
During jury selection, Gibson moved to dismiss all 50 potential jurors after the court learned one of the prospective jurors had discussed the case with some other possible jurors.
The trial court denied the motion and instead polled the group and talked to everyone individually about whether they had learned anything regarding the case. All potential jurors who reported hearing Gibson was accused of multiple murders were immediately excused for cause.
The Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision.
“Here, however, we are not dealing with an empaneled jury, but potential jurors whose preconceived ideas and biases were thoroughly examined by the parties during voir dire,” Justice Mark Massa wrote for the court. “Indeed, it was through their meticulous questioning that any potential jurors who were aware of the other murders were excluded. As for those who responded they lacked any outside knowledge of the case, we presume they answered truthfully.”
Next, Gibson appealed the trial court’s denial of his request to ask the potential jurors questions which included specific facts of the case. He argued his questions should have been permitted to determine if a juror might automatically choose the death penalty when hearing there was a sexual attack and dismemberment of an elderly woman.
“…the trial court merely ruled defense counsel could not ‘give the jury pool the specific facts of the case and then ask them what their verdict would be,’” Massa wrote. “Gibson was not denied the opportunity to make reasonable inquiry into juror attitudes about the death penalty, elderly victims, or sexual assault.”
Finally Gibson asserted there were six jurors who should have been removed for cause. The Supreme Court did not review his motion to dismiss four of the jurors because they did not end up serving on his jury.
As for the other two jurors, both acknowledged they had preconceived notions about murder and elderly victims but they said they could be impartial. The Supreme Court declined to second guess the trial court’s determination that the jurors were sincere.