Jurors picked for trial of man suspected of several killings in Delaware and Pennsylvania

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The trial of a suspected serial killer who calls himself “the Beast” and is accused in the deaths of several people in Delaware and Pennsylvania during a violent crime spree in 2021 began Monday with jury selection.

A jury panel of 12 was selected for the trial of Keith Gibson, 41, who is being tried for the killings of an Elsmere cellphone store manager and a Wilmington man in separate robberies. The fatal shootings are among a host of charges against Gibson outlined in a 41-count indictment, including assault and attempted murder in two other shootings in Wilmington.

The Philadelphia district attorney has approved murder charges against Gibson for the killings of his mother and a Philadelphia doughnut shop manager, as well as the deaths of two men found shot in the head inside a store in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood in January 2021.

Gibson, dressed in civilian clothes, was handcuffed while escorted in and out of the courtroom Monday. A security officer removed the cuffs after he was seated at the defense table next to attorneys Megan Davies and Richard Sparaco.

More than 80 people have been listed as potential witnesses at the trial, which is expected to last up to four weeks. Attorneys will present their opening statements Tuesday, followed by witness testimony.

Gibson, who has a long criminal history, is accused of going on a violent rampage shortly after being released in December 2020 from a Delaware prison where he served about 13 years for manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

After being identified by Philadelphia police as a suspect in the Feb. 6, 2021, killing of his mother, Christine Gibson, he was charged with violating the terms of his probation by leaving Delaware without permission. Delaware probation officials initially recommended that a judge sentence Gibson to serve the 6½ years remaining on his 20-year sentence in the manslaughter case. They later asked only for a minimum of 30 days after a defense attorney told the judge that Gibson had found work in Philadelphia and that leaving Delaware without permission was just a minor mistake. The judge sentenced him to 31 days, and he was released again April 27, 2021.

Less than three weeks later, prosecutors said, Gibson shot and killed Leslie Ruiz-Basilio, 28, during a robbery at a cellphone store in Elsmere on May 15, then stole her car, which was later found in Philadelphia.

On June 5, Gibson then shot and killed Ronald Wright, 42, during a street robbery in Wilmington, also wounding another man, prosecutors said.

Earlier that same day, Christine Lugo, 40, had been confronted by a gunman as she opened a Dunkin’ shop in north Philadelphia. Police say Gibson pushed her inside, took about $300, shot her in the head and fled to Delaware.

Authorities say Gibson robbed or assaulted three other people in Delaware over the next three days. He was arrested June 8 in connection with the robbery of a Wilmington Rite Aid store, during which a clerk was pistol-whipped. When police arrested him, Gibson was wearing body armor and carrying a knife and loaded handgun.