Gilbert Jr. ’09 found mentally unfit to stand trial for alleged murder of father| Sep 23, 2015
Thomas Gilbert, Jr., ’09 has been found by two court-appointed psychiatrists to be mentally unfit to stand trial, but a judge on Sept. 10 granted a prosecutor’s request for a third opinion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Gilbert Jr., 31, is alleged to have fatally shot his father, hedge fund millionaire Thomas Gilbert, Sr., ’66, in his parents’ Manhattan home on Jan. 4. According toa public statementreleased by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Feb. 5, Gilbert has been indicted for second-degree murder and other charges.
Gilbert pleaded not guilty to murder when he was arrested on Jan. 4, the Daily Mail reported.If found guilty, Gilbert Jr. faces 25 years to life in prison, the Journal reported.
Gilbert Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Gilbert Jr.’s incompetency was determined by state evaluators following his lawyer’s request for psychological testing in late July, according to theNew York Daily News.
“Evaluators unequivocally determined that he was unfit to stand trial,” Gilbert Jr.’s defense attorney Alex Spiro said in a phone interview. “He has had a significant history of mental illness for over a decade.”
The communications office of the Manhattan District Attorney deferred comment to the public statement released Feb. 5.
Henry Asbill ’69, an attorney at the law firm Jones Day who has represented clients in similar cases, said that prosecutors would likely request a third opinion if the initial evaluations left unanswered questions or if the test results were unfavorable to the prosecution.
Fernando Aenlle-Rocha ’83, who was a prosecutor for 12 years and currently works at White & Case LLP, said that psychiatric evaluations are “highly subjective, so multiple opinions would be useful.”
If the results of the third evaluation confirm Gilbert’s original incompetency determination in the next hearing, Gilbert Jr. will presumably be hospitalized at a secure mental health facility and treated in an effort to restore his competency, Asbill said. After periodic assessments of Gilbert Jr.’s mental health status, prosecutors will then set a trial date to move forward with the charges once he is deemed competent.
Asbill said the ultimate outcome of the case is difficult to predict.
Gilbert Jr. is charged with murdering his father point-blank on Jan. 4, after showing up unannounced at his parents’ Beekham Place apartment and asking his mother, Shelley Gilbert, to leave him alone with this father. A neighbor reported hearing gunshots soon after, and Gilbert Jr. was seen leaving the building.
Gilbert Sr. was discovered lying on his back in the bedroom, with a gunshot wound to the head, the Timesreported. He was found with a gun on his chest, and his left hand was covering the gun.
However, Asbill noted that if the forensic analysis of Gilbert Sr.’s “clumsily staged suicide,” as TheNew York Timesphrased it,is conclusive, it may undermine Spiro’s psychiatric defense. The burden is on the state to prove Gilbert Jr.’s guilt, he added.
“If it was staged, the government will be pressing that and say the competency issue is not as simple as it seems,” Asbill said. “Clearly, the government will think that if he has staged the aftermath of a crime scene … they’re going to claim that he doesn’t have any mental illness or discount any defense to that effect.”
From the prosecution’s vantage point, Aenlle-Rocha said he had some concern for the defense’s argument in light of the reported evidence. Detectives believe bullet casings and ammunition later discovered in Gilbert Jr.’s apartment were linked with the gun resting on Gilbert Sr.’s chest at the scene of the crime, according to the Times.
“That [evidence] struck me as a well thought-out act,” Aenlle-Rocha said. “The fact that he had enough foresight to attempt to stage the scene as a suicide is evidence of someone who is able to plan, analyze … It doesn’t strike me as the kind of behavior of someone who we consider to be mentally ill to the point of not knowing what they’re doing.”
Authorities believe the incident occurred after Gilbert Sr. reduced his son’s weekly allowance from $600 to $400 and threatened to end Gilbert Jr.’s$2,400-a-month rental payments for his Chelsea apartment, according to the Daily Mail.
According tothe New York Post, Gilbert submitted a fill-in-the-blank application for bail of up to $500,000 in April but was denied by Manhattan Justice Melissa Jackson.
Spiro said the next court date has been set for Oct. 19.