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‘I Don’t Have Any Choice,’ Mom Says Of Testifying Against Ivy League Son Accused Of Killing His Father

Shelly Gilbert says it’s “obvious” her 34-year-old son, Thomas Gilbert, Jr., shot his father to death, but believes his mental illness impaired his judgment.

By Jill Sederstrom
Killers Born of Privilege

A New York mother will have to take the stand against her own son, who is accused of killing his father after his monthly $3,000 allowance was decreased by $200.

Shelly Gilbert is slated to be the star witness for the prosecution in the trial against Thomas Gilbert Jr., 34, but she said didn’t have a “choice” in testifying and believes her son committed the heinous act because of his long struggle with mental illness.

“It was obvious he’d done it,” she told The New York Post of the killing of her husband, Thomas Gilbert Sr., 70, in a new interview. “There was no one else around. Most trials you have to prove who did it. That’s not true of this one. What’s cruel is I have to relive it on the stand.’’

Gilbert Jr.’s trial is slated to begin later this month—years after he was initially arrested in 2015 for the slaying.

The New York City Police Department has alleged that Gilbert Jr. shot his father to death in his parent’s bedroom after sending his mother out on an errand while was visiting the couple at their lavish apartment and then tried to make the death appear like a suicide, local paper The Independent reports.

Thomas Gilbert, Jr

Shelly Gilbert told The Post that when she returned from getting her son a sandwich, she discovered he had left the apartment, but found her hedge fund manager husband in the couple’s bedroom bleeding from the gunshot wound and quickly called 911.

When she called Gilbert Jr., a Princeton grad, he suggested the pair “get a bite to eat.”

Although Shelly Gilbert told the paper she immediately knew her son had likely pulled the trigger, she believed the crime showed just how sick her son had become. She said he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on medication while he was a student at Princeton.

“That wasn’t Tommy,” she said of the slaying. “He was always a rational thinker.”

But while she says her son is not an evil person, the prosecution in the case maintains that Gilbert Jr. knew right from wrong at the time of the killing.

The trial is set to begin this month after a series of delays as Gilbert Jr. has been the subject of a least five psychiatric examinations.

He’s been largely uncooperative in his own defense since his arrest and has often refused to speak to his own attorney, Arnold Levine, The Independent reports. As of December, the two had only spoken on several brief occasions, including one six-minute discussion.

Gilbert Jr. did speak at length—for almost 10 minutes—on his own behalf during a courtroom appearance in December, claiming that the search of his apartment had been illegal. The judge told him she had already ruled on a motion to suppress the evidence but commended him for his “well argued” position.

He also requested a change of attorneys, but the request was denied.

Shelly Gilbert believes her son’s mental health and appearance have significantly declined since his arrest and believes her son belongs in a hospital, not in jail.

“Think if we put people with cancer in a courtroom with lawyers, the outrage would be overwhelming,” she said. “Yet that’s what we do with our mentally ill.”

The devastated mother also believes her husband would have wanted Gilbert Jr. to get the mental health help he needs.

“This whole thing has been brutal,” she told The Post. “I still don’t believe all this has happened.”