The former Georgica Association, Wainscott resident who has been in detention on Rikers Island since shortly after allegedly shooting his father, then staging the scene to look like a suicide in the elder man’s Manhattan apartment, was back in court on September 12.
Thomas Gilbert Jr., 34, had sent his mother out to get a sandwich, according to the New York Police Department, then took advantage of her absence to shoot Thomas Gilbert Sr. on January 4, 2015. After allegedly staging the scene to make it look like Gilbert Sr. had taken his own life by placing the murder weapon, a 40 mm Glock, on his father’s chest, he then left the building, and returned to his Chelsea apartment on West 18th Street, where police soon found him. The father, a hedge fund trader, had reportedly told the son that he was cutting back on his allowance.
When police entered the Chelsea apartment, they reported finding an ATM skimmer device and 21 blank credit cards, along with a loaded gun.
Gilbert is now on his second lawyer. Formerly a clean-cut preppie who attended Princeton, as his father had before him, he now has very long, unkempt hair and a beard. Both of his high-profile lawyers, first Alex Spiro, and now Arnold Levine, have told Manhattan District Court Justice Melissa Jackson repeatedly that Gilbert will not talk to them. Gilbert’s mother, Shelly, who has attended each of the many dozens of court sessions since he was first arraigned, brought on Levine after Spiro left the law firm of Brafman and Associates.
When Gilbert entered the courtroom on September 12, he looked expressionlessly at his mother, before turning in the direction of the judge.
Currently, the court is trying, for the second time, to determine if Gilbert is mentally fit to stand trial. The problem is that Gilbert is not talking to the two psychiatrists who have been assigned by the court to examine him, despite Justice Jackson’s repeated admonitions to him to cooperate.
“It is this court’s hope that you will participate,” Justice Jackson told Gilbert last Wednesday, as she ordered an adjournment until October 30. “I do exhort you to please cooperate with the doctors and with your attorney. Your attorney is doing the best he can.” She said it was important to move forward with the case, one way or the other. “I am exhorting you to please speak with your lawyer. And cooperate with these psychologists so that you are not held indefinitely on Rikers Island,” she said.
“Our position is that his refusal to talk to me is a symptom of his mental illness,” Levine said outside the courtroom. He was asked if Gilbert was talking to him at all. “No,” was the answer.
Now, the two psychiatrists have been instructed to conduct a broader examination. Levine said the latest adjournment is to allow the doctors, who work out of the Manhattan Criminal and Supreme Court Forensic Psychiatry Clinic, which is located in the criminal courts building on Centre Street in Manhattan, to try and get information from other sources, including doctors and others who have had contact with Gilbert in jail, as well as records from before his arrest.
Gilbert has a long history of violent and/or erratic incidents, both in New York City, and on the East End. The Gilbert family was close with the Smiths, who had a son, Peter, around the same age as the younger Gilbert. Both families were reportedly members of the Maidstone Club. That friendship ended at some when Thomas Gilbert Jr. allegedly attacked Peter Smith Jr. Spiro represented Gilbert after that incident, but would not comment other than to say the court file was sealed.
At the same time, however, the court issued an order of protection for Smith. On Labor Day evening, 2014, Gilbert allegedly violated that order by approaching Smith on Sagg Main Beach. He was charged with criminal contempt by Southampton Town police. Two weeks later, the Smith residence, a six-bedroom house on Sagg Main Street, was destroyed by a fire which detectives classified as arson.
East Hampton Town Justice Court clerks remember Gilbert well. Several times he went to the court clerk’s window, berating them about various charges town police had brought against him, including unlicensed driving. At one point, he even went to the town supervisor’s office to complain about the court clerks.
Levine explained that, if Gilbert was found mentally unfit to stand trial or not, the finding would not affect his ability to argue that his client was not guilty of murder by reason of being insane at the time of the crime. “One is about the time of the crime. One is about now,” Levine said as he left the courthouse with Shelly Gilbert.