Thomas Gilbert Competent to Stand Trial in Father's Murder

A New York State Supreme Court Justice ruled Thomas GIlbert Jr. is mentally competent to stand trial for allegedly killing his father in New York City on Jan. 4.

Thomas Gilbert Jr. of New York and Wainscott, who is accused of murdering his father in Manhattan in January, is mentally competent to stand trial, New York State Supreme Court Justice Melissa C. Jackson ruled Monday.

Mr. Gilbert's attorneys had argued that he is mentally ill and incapable of assisting in his own defense.

"The defendant's psychiatric history is irrelevant to the issue at hand; it is the defendant's current psychological condition that is relevant," Justice Jackson wrote, explaining that her determination was a legal one, not a medical one. The question she had to answer, she said in the decision, is does Mr. Gilbert "lack the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and/or assist in his own defense?"

"The court was particularly persuaded after observing the defendant in court on many occasions, his videotaped interview with Dr. Kirschner, and a recorded telephone conversation from Rikers Island between the defendant and an unknown female."

During that phone call, Mr. Gilbert "requested intellectually advanced reading materials, and expressed the desire to stay in the mental observation unit because he was treated better there."

"He was laughing, rational, and engaged in a casual, frank conversation" during the phone call, she said. The judge noted that Mr. Gilbert is learning to speak Chinese and is taking yoga while in jail.

Monday was the fourteenth session of Mr. Gilbert's mental competency hearing, which began in early October. Mr. Gilbert, handcuffed and dressed in a New York City correctional facility orange jump suit, was led into the court by guards. He said nothing during the proceedings.

When Justice Jackson announced her decision from the bench, Shelly Gilbert, the defendant's mother, and wife of the Thomas Gilbert Sr., let out a quiet gasp. She has attended every court session. Afterwards, Alex Spiro, the lawyer the Gilbert family has retained, not only for this case, but for Mr. Gilbert's previous brushes with the law, huddled with Ms. Gilbert.

Craig Ortner, the prosecutor on the case, made it clear in comments during Monday's session that he expects Mr. Spiro to introduce insanity as a defense during the trial, which could begin as early as February. He complained that Mr. Spiro should have made that application within 30 days of his client's arraignment after he was indicted, and asked the court, on that basis, to disallow such a defense. Justice Jackson asked both sides to submit written responses to the motion, before she rules on it.

Mr. Gilbert is accused of murdering his 70-year-old father in his parent's Beekman Place apartment on Jan. 4, then staging the scene to make it look like a suicide. He was taken into custody that evening, and was placed under arrest the next day.

The senior Mr. Gilbert was a hedge fund manager who founded Wainscott Capital Partners Fund. The family has a house in the Georgica Association.

The defendant is being held without bail due to the serious nature of the charges, which include pre-meditated murder.