Jurors heard a mother’s chilling 911 tape after discovering her wealthy hedge fund manager husband fatally shot in the head just minutes after her Ivy League-educated son had unexpectedly dropped by their apartment.
In the call played in court Tuesday, Shelley Gilbert can be heard telling the 911 operator that her adult son Thomas Gilbert Jr., 34, was a likely suspect in the slaying of her husband, Thomas Gilbert Sr.
“My son, who is nuts,” she is heard saying on the tape, according to The New York Daily News. “But I didn’t know he was this nuts. … I had no idea he was this nuts.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Gilbert Jr., a Princeton graduate whose lavish lifestyle was supported by his wealthy parents, killed his 70-year-old father after his parents had begun to gradually reduce his once $1,000-a-week allowance in an attempt to get him to seek psychiatric help for his mental health issues. The final cut had decreased the amount from $400 to $300 a week, The New York Post reports.
“He comes with the worst of intentions,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Craig Ortner told the jury of Gilbert Jr.’s visit to the family’s home in January 2015. “The shooting was neither a suicide nor an accident. The gun was pressed tightly against the victim’s head when he fired. ... Five minutes is all the defendant needed to accomplish his goal.”
Shelley Gilbert—who reluctantly testified for the prosecution—said her son had dropped by the home unannounced on Jan. 4, 2015. While she was initially pleasantly surprised to see her son, the day quickly took a tragic turn.
Shelley Gilbert said her son asked her to go out and get him a sandwich and a Coke, but when she returned just five minutes later she found her husband dead in a pool of blood.
“I remember calling his name and hoping he was just knocked out and not dead,” she told jurors.
But after she looked down at her husband she saw the bullet hole behind his ear and realized “he was no longer with us.”
Prosecutors have claimed that Gilbert Jr. meticulously planned the killing, even driving to Ohio to buy a gun, after growing increasingly angry about his parents' attempts to reduce his financial support.
His parents regularly paid his rent, bills, phone, food, health insurance and memberships to elite social clubs.
But Shelley Gilbert has said that her son had been struggling with significant mental health issues, having been battling paranoia, depression and schizophrenia in the years before Gilbert Sr. was killed.
She only testified for the prosecution after being served with a subpoena and told The Post in an earlier interview that she believes her son needs psychiatric help, not a prison sentence.
As she testified in in court, Gilbert Jr. shouted “objection” repeatedly until Justice Melissa Jackson threatened to remove him from the courtroom, The Post reports.
Gilbert Jr.’s attorney, Arnold Levine, also maintains that his client's actions were driven by his spiraling mental health.
“Tommy’s mental illness is real,” he said.
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