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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Thomas Gilbert Jr. Golden Boy Murder Case

     Thomas Gilbert Jr. had all of the advantages in life but one--mental health. His father, a managing partner in a successful New York City hedge fund firm, sent him to an expensive prep school in Massachusetts and later to his alma mater, Princeton University. Upon his son's graduation from Princeton, Thomas Gilbert Sr. paid for the young man's high-end apartment in Manhattan's fancy Chelsea neighborhood. The ivy league golden boy also received a family allowance of $1,000 a week.

     Early in 2014, frustrated with his son's inability to stand on his feet financially, Thomas Gilbert Sr. cut the 28-year-old's weekly allowance to $800. By the end of that year, young Mr. Gilbert's allowance had dwindled to $300.

     On January 4, 2015 Thomas Gilbert Jr. showed up at his parents' posh Turtle Bay Manhattan apartment. He informed his mother Shelley that he needed to talk to his father about business. To get his mother out of the apartment, he sent her on an errand to fetch him a sandwich and a Coke.

     Upon Shelley Gilbert's return to the apartment with the sandwich and soft drink, she found her husband on the floor with a fatal gunshot would to his head. The handgun used to kill the victim was resting on his chest.

     Homicide detectives with the New York City Police Department acquired surveillance camera footage showing Thomas Gilbert Jr., about fifteen minutes after his mother found her dead husband, leaving the apartment building wearing a hoodie and carrying a gym bag.

      Not long after the fatal shooting in the Gilbert apartment, detectives arrested Thomas Gilbert Jr. for the murder of his father.

     The Thomas Gilbert murder trial got underway in Manhattan in late May 2019. The issue wasn't whether the son had shot his father to death, but whether or not, at the time of the shooting, the defendant was legally insane. (Legal insanity is not the same as clinical insanity. To be legally insane the defendant must be so mentally impaired he or she was unable to distinguish right from wrong. This is such a high bar few defendants claiming the defense succeed in proving it.)

     In an effort to establish the insanity case, defense attorneys put on the stand the therapist who had been treating the defendant. According to this witness the defendant suffered from "paranoid thoughts" and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

     The prosecution did not deny that the defendant had a mental problem. The prosecutor argued, however, that notwithstanding the defendant's mental condition, he was sane enough to know that shooting his father to death was an act of criminal homicide.

     In late June 2019, the Manhattan jury found Thomas Gilbert Jr. guilty of second-degree murder, a conviction that could put the 34-year-old in prison for life.

     Cases like this are difficult because it is impossible to know the degree to which the defendant's mental illness played in the murder. Was he driven by his sickness or was he simply a spoiled jerk?
     In August 2019, the judge sentenced Thomas Gilbert Jr. to 30 years to life.

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