Doctor charged with killing missing woman, sentenced in child neglect case

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – The Chesterfield doctor recently charged with murdering his missing girlfriend was sentenced Tuesday for neglecting their son.

Dr. John Gibbs was convicted of child neglect in November of 2016. Prosecutors said Gibbs left his five-year-old son alone on more than one occasion, but was sentenced to six months in prison an incident in February of last year when police found Gibbs' wandering alone on a busy street near Gibbs' Chesterfield apartment.

Gibbs was sentenced to five years in prison, with four and a half years suspended. He will serve a total of six months in jail for the crime. During the sentencing hearing, the judge said the "lucky, good fortune, or guardian angel" that kept Gibbs' son safe that day was in no way related to Gibbs.

Gibbs briefly spoke before the judge handed down his sentence.

Gibbs apologized for what he called "a parenting mistake" and that he has always loved his boy, who is now six years old.  Gibbs said the allegations of neglect have been "greatly exaggerated" by the prosecution.

Defense attorney Craig Cooley said he wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s sentence, but said he will appeal it.

During the hearing, prosecutors said Gibbs Goggled the phrase, "how to abandon a child in Virginia" the night after police found his son wandering the street.

John Gibbs (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Earlier this month, Gibbs was arrested and charged in the murder of his girlfriend, missing Chesterfield nurse Zulma Pabon.

Pabon, 26, was last seen alive on June 6, 2014.  Pabon was the mother of the boy involved in the child neglect charges, according to testimony.

After more than two years of investigating what was initially a suspicious missing person's case, investigators concluded Pabon was dead. The case was re-classified as a death investigation, specifically a no-body homicide.

During the sentencing phase of the child neglect case Tuesday, a Chesterfield County judge heard from witnesses who worked on the child neglect case and people who testified to Gibbs character.

Investigators who worked on the case testified that Gibbs admitted to leaving his son alone on two occasions.  During one incident, the boy was found alone near the pool at his apartment complex.

Investigators said the child started acting out at daycare and school only after mom went missing in June 2014. They also said the boy reportedly threatened to kill students and teachers on one occasion, according to school officials.

Zulma Pabon

Investigators testified that school officials reported Gibbs appeared to strike his son in the school parking lot after picking up the boy, who had been suspended for acting out.

Gibbs defense pointed out no physical injury to the child was ever reported. A social worker who now works with Gibbs son also said the child has shown no signs of trauma.

Gibbs' sister, who now has custody of his son, also testified Tuesday.

A motions hearing for the Zulma Pabon murder trial has been set for April 11. The trial is expected to last two weeks.