CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – The murder trial of Chesterfield doctor John E. Gibbs entered its second week Monday with the defense calling witnesses to the stand.
Gibbs is accused of murdering his girlfriend Zulma Pabon, who was reported missing by her co-workers at St. Francis Medical Hospital, when she didn’t show up for work on June 9, 2014.
The trial is complicated because Pabon’s body was never recovered, though the prosecution presented many pieces of evidence that they said pinpoints Gibbs as the suspect in her presumed death.
The Commonwealth rested its case Friday, after calling numerous witnesses whose testimony painted Gibbs' actions as unusual in the immediate days and weeks following the disappearance of his girlfriend -- not expressing much grief, and providing scant details to family, friends and co-workers. After Pabon’s disappearance, Gibbs took an unplanned 10-day road trip out to California and back, with two children in the car. Later, Gibbs bought 23 bottles of drain cleaner in North Carolina.
Last week, the defense wove a counter narrative through cross examination that painted Pabon as a party animal who had uncontrollable bouts of drinking and episodes of cutting that could explain her disappearance. The defense began calling its witnesses to the stand Monday.
Gibbs’ sister, who lives in North Carolina, said her brother had told her that Pabon had changed her behavior, including coming home drunk.
She said she could not recall exactly when Gibbs had mentioned that.
During cross examination by prosecutors, she testified that she and Gibbs were very close and spoke multiple times a day, including before, during and after Pabon went missing.
She testified that Gibbs never once mentioned to her that Pabon had gone missing or that he was going on a road trip with the kids or that Pabon's car had been later found.
The defense also called a former coworker of both Gibbs and Pabon from the hospital to testify.
She described Gibbs as being a passionate and dedicated doctor who cared for his patients and staff. The coworker categorized the relationship between Gibbs and Pabon's was romantic, not seeming to have any signs of abuse or issues. One of the last times she saw Pabon was not long before she disappeared, and Pabon had come for lunch with Gibbs.
The defense will continue to call witnesses this week. The trial could last until Friday.