Jurors in serial killings trial views video footage of shootings

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a man charged in the deaths of six people in Delaware and Pennsylvania were shown video surveillance footage Tuesday of two fatal shootings.

During the prosecution’s opening statement about the alleged 2021 crime spree, they also played video surveillance footage of a third shooting that resulted in attempted murder charges against Keith Gibson, 41.

Gibson is charged with murder in the killings of Elsmere cellphone store clerk Leslie Ruiz-Basilio, 28, and Wilmington drug dealer Ronald Wright, 42, during separate robberies. He is also charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Wilmington store clerk Belal Almansoori.

The Philadelphia district attorney, meanwhile, has approved murder charges against Gibson in 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. Authorities say they will pursue those charges after Gibson is prosecuted in Delaware.

Surveillance footage from May 15, 2021, at the Metro PCS store in Elsmere show Ruiz-Basilio being confronted by a gunman, who takes her to the back of the store. As Ruiz-Basilio has her arms raised, the gunman raises his weapon and shoots her in the head at point-blank range. He then walks out of the store with stolen cash and cell phones and drives away in Ruiz-Basilio's SUV.

“When he had what he wanted, he shot Leslie in the head, executing her,” prosecutor Ipek Kurul told jurors.

Kurul later showed jurors a photo of Ruiz-Basilio’s body, lying next to a large pool of blood, as members of her family wept quietly.

During her opening statement, Kurul also showed a video Almansoori being shot on June 6, 2021. Surveillance footage shows Almansoori lying on the ground pretending to be dead after a gunman’s first shot missed him. After stealing several items, the gunman shoots the prone teenager in the head. As he begins to leave, he turns and shoots Almansoori again.

Almansoori was shot one day after Wright was killed in his Wilmington residence, which Kurul described as a “drug house.” Kurul said Gibson was later found with a bag in which Wright was known to keep his drugs.

Earlier on the same day Wright was shot, Christine Lugo, 40, was confronted by a gunman as she opened a Dunkin’ shop in north Philadelphia. Police say Gibson pushed her inside, took about $300 and shot her in the head, a killing that also was captured on surveillance video.

Kurul said ballistics, clothing worn by the gunman and other evidence will tie the crimes together, and will point to Gibson as the gunman. She also said a friend of Gibson's, Amanda Masteller, will identify him as the person in each of the crime scene videos.

“We are confident that you will come to the only conclusion in this case, that being that the defendant, Keith Gibson, is guilty,” Kurul told jurors.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Richard Sparaco reminded the jury that Gibson is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

“He still has this cloak of innocence,” Sparaco said.

“There will be no DNA evidence that unequivocally links Mr. Gibson to these crimes,” Sparaco added. "There’s nothing to tie Mr. Gibson forensically to any of these scenes … and that, ladies and gentlemen, is reasonable doubt.”

Gibson, who calls himself “the Beast,” 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 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 before Ruiz-Basilio was killed. Her SUV was found a few days later parked near Gibson’s residence in Philadelphia.

Gibson was arrested on June 8, 2021, after the robbery of a Wilmington Rite Aid store, during which a clerk gave him a bundle of cash containing a GPS tracking device. When police arrested him, Gibson was wearing body armor and carrying ammunition. A revolver that prosecutors say was used in the shootings was found hidden near the spot where police found Gibson.