Judge may order defendant's hair dyed before trial

NEW ALBANY, Ind. - The hair of a southern Indiana man convicted of killing two women might by dyed before his third murder trial to better cover a tattoo, a judge said Wednesday.

Lawyers for William Clyde Gibson, 56, of New Albany asked Floyd Superior Court Judge Susan Orth to allow the defendant to shave his head and to use makeup to cover a tattoo that says "Death Row X 3." But Orth said she was not inclined to allow that and may order the hair dyed dark brown to more thoroughly hide the tattoo, The (Louisville, Kentucky,) Courier-Journal reported.

"If it didn't refer to the two other murders, I wouldn't be concerned," Orth said.

The judge last month ordered Gibson to grow out his hair to cover the tattoo on the back of his head that he received in prison.

Gibson was sentenced to death last fall after being convicted of killing family friend Christine Whitis of Clarksville in 2012. And he was sentenced last month to 65 years in prison after agreeing to plead guilty in the death of Karen Hodella of Port Orange, Florida.

Gibson is facing a June 16 trial in connection with the strangulation death of 35-year-old Stephanie Kirk of Charlestown, whose remains were found buried in Gibson's yard days after the Whitis slaying.

During a pretrial hearing, Orth said she will rule in the next week or so on the hair issue and other pending motions, including a defense request to dismiss the death penalty in the Kirk case. Selection of four jurors and four alternates is due to begin June 2 in Evansville. The panel will then be housed in Floyd County for the trial.

Gibson's lawyers also requested Wednesday to limit the Kirk crime scene photos, particularly those that are gory and bloody, as they did before the trial in the Whitis case.

Steve Owen, Floyd County's chief deputy prosecutor, argued the Kirk photos are far less graphic than those presented during the Whitis trial and that the state needed an opportunity to introduce evidence and explain to the jury what happened to Kirk.

Kirk's father and another relative attended the hearing but left without commenting to reporters.

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