“I felt her face, and it was cold,” Kirkpatrick recalled. Frantic, she left the garage and flagged down the first police officer she encountered and began screaming. Having no idea why she was so upset, the officer, she recalled, advised her to calm down so could understand what she was trying to communicate.
Since that day, Kirkpatrick has told her story again and again, each time re-living the nightmare. Now she is preparing to tell it again as the state Parole Board gets ready to consider the early release application of David Dart, now serving 25 years to life at medium-security Otisville state prison for Gibbons’ murder.
Kirkpatrick said she had signed up on the state’s web site for crime victims who want to be informed about such parole hearings. But it wasn’t until Monday, she said, that she discovered the hearing was scheduled to take place this week. And that was only through the efforts of Otsego County Judge Brian Burns, whose office had received a correspondence from the Otisville prison on Nov. 14, indicating that a parole hearing would soon be held for Dart. Burns contacted a friend who knew Kirkpatrick and relayed the information so the victim’s family could be made aware of the upcoming proceeding.
But no one from the state ever reached out to Gillian Gibbons’ family to let them know that Dart’s first parole hearing had been placed on the prison system calendar, Kirkpatrick said.
“I was blindsided,” she said. “I think the court was blind-sided as well. I feel like I have been abandoned by the system.”
She said she learned that the hearing was postponed after a reporter for The Daily Star contacted the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and made inquiries about the scheduled parole hearing. When that inquiry was made, Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the agency, said she could only confirm that the parole hearing was scheduled for this week, but was constrained from providing the specific date.