[="Red"]he is sure going to need some prayers[/]
August 26, 2007
Man charged in 1999 arson deaths heads for trial
By Tommy Witherspoon, Waco Tribune-Herald
Jury selection is set to begin Monday morning in the trial of a Waco man
charged in the 1999 arson deaths of his ex-wife and her 1-year-old daughter.
William Mark Gibson, 30, is charged in Waco's 54th State District Court with
capital murder in the November 1999 deaths of his ex-wife, Janie Rios, and
her daughter, Abbygail.
Janie Rios, 23, had divorced Gibson in July 1999, and their two sons were
not home when Rios and her daughter died in the fire.
Waco Fire Department officials have said the fire at 912 N. 16th St. "was
deliberately set to block the only exit from the apartment."
Gibson is charged in a three-paragraph indictment with committing capital
murder by killing someone during the commission of arson, killing more than
one person in a single transaction and killing a child younger than 6.
Prosecutors Crawford Long and Susan Shafer have elected not to seek the
death penalty if Gibson is convicted of capital murder. Long and Shafer
declined comment about the upcoming trial.
If convicted of capital murder, Gibson, who is represented by Waco attorney
Guy Cox and Georgetown attorney Russ Hunt Jr., faces an automatic life
sentence and must serve a minimum of 40 years before becoming eligible for
"This case is an old case, and there are going to be a lot of witnesses and
there are going to be a lot of stories told," Cox said. "The jury is going
to have to reach a verdict by weeding out all the lies that are going to be
Cox said some antagonism between the families could boil over during the
"Waco is a small town and there is going to be a lot of old wounds reopened
by this trial," he said.
Court documents filed by police in the case indicate Gibson reportedly has
told others he started the fire to "get his older boys and because the
younger girl was getting in between him and Janie."
Retired State District Judge George Allen will preside over Gibson's trial,
which is expected to last about a week. Judge Matt Johnson recused himself
Aug. 16 after Johnson remembered that, as a former prosecutor, he visited
the crime scene with Waco Fire Marshal Jerry Hawk days after the fire.
Source : Waco Tribune-Herald