CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - John E. Gibbs II, who was charged with first-degree murder in connection to Zulma Pabon, made his initial appearance on Wednesday in front of the circuit court through a video conferencing call. He was dressed in his orange jumpsuit and had no expression, answering with few words.
He is being defended by Debra Corcoran and Craig Cooley.
Corcoran tells us "the hardest person to represent is someone who is innocent," saying that as soon as the evidence is presented, she believes her client will be cleared of all charges.
Gibbs was arrested in 2016 for two counts of felony child neglect.
Corcoran feels it is no coincidence that this murder charge came just before his child neglect case, saying it is the CWA trying to subtly influence the outcome.
On that child neglect charge, Corcoran says the couple's son got out of the house and walked over to Costco but was unharmed.
She said Gibbs is a good man, and his life has been ruined from these allegations.
"He's lost his job, his children, and his standing in the community," Corcoran said.
Gibbs was already scheduled to appear in front of a judge on March 28 at 1 p.m. for the child neglect charge. The court will now pair that appearance with a status hearing for the charge of murder.
After that time, attorneys on both sides will decide how to move forward, and if that plan includes a jury trial.
He was arrested Tuesday in Massanutten to face the first-degree murder charge related to the disappearance of Pabon.
According to court documents, the defense filed a motion on March 6 to prevent a witness expert from testifying in the child neglect case. That expert is a social worker who was planning to testify on the effects of trauma on children.
According to the defense, the testimony would not specifically relate to the victim in this case. The defense says the social worker at no time interviewed or examined the child, and the social worker's testimony would be irrelevant to the case.
The document states the only evidence of police participation is chasing the little boy, who was five years old at the time, throughout his school as he was running terrified, according to the defense's motion.
While out on bail, Gibbs was ordered to appear in person, to have no unsupervised contact with minors, no contact with the victim - his own son - not to leave Virginia and to wear a GPS monitoring device. Court records show he complied with all of these requirements.
Child Protective Services workers, daycare workers, detectives, and parole officers are among those served a subpoena to testify in court. Part of the sealed documents include DNA search results.
The couple has two children. The youngest is considered the victim in this case. He was born in 2010, the other son was born in 2000.
The boys have been staying with family.
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