From Park Avenue prince to on trial for patricide: Thomas Gilbert Jr is seen in court as prosecutors claim his mother found his father ‘lying dead on the floor, blood and pieces of brain matter oozing out into a puddle next to his head‘
Looking thin and pale, the once strapping and handsome Thomas ‘Tommy‘ Gilbert Jr appeared in court today to face murder charges in the death of his father.
Prosecutors said Tuesday in court that Gilbert Jr used a .05 Glock to kill his father Thomas Gilbert Sr in January 2015 by pressing the muzzle of the gun ‘tightly‘ on the victim‘s head and pulling the trigger.
‘When he murdered his father, the defendant was fully aware of what he was doing, and he certainly knew that it was wrong,‘ prosecutor Craig Ortner said in his opening statements, adding that the son planned the crime by driving to Ohio to illegally purchase the gun and visiting websites hireakiller and hitman.
In response, Gilbert Jr‘s lawyer Arnold Levine said he suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
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When Gilbert was arrested in 2015 (left) he was a strapping and handsome young man – a stark contrast to the frail and thin man who appeared four years later in court Tuesday (right)
When the news broke that Gilbert had been arrested for shooting dead his wealthy hedge fund executive father in 2015, it sent shock waves through swaths of New York society.
It was bewildering and horrifying that this young man with his gilded life of waspish privilege and promise should have taken a gun and put a bullet in his own father‘s head.
There was only one person to whom it all made a chilling sort of sense – his mother.
To Shelly Gilbert, 72, ‘it was obvious he had done it.‘ Tasked with telling her daughter Clare, now 29, of 70-year-old Gilbert‘s death, Shelly said, ‘Dad‘s dead and Tommy shot him.‘
Thomas Gilbert Sr was a wealthy New York hedge fund boss who was shot in the head after an argument with his son
Mrs Gilbert will find herself in the tortuous position of having to testify against her own son.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that when Gilbert Jr‘s mother returned to the family‘s apartment, she found her husband of 33 years ‘lying dead on the floor, blood and pieces of brain matter oozing out into a puddle next to his head.‘
It is four years since the day in January 2015 that 34-year-old Gilbert Jr went to his parents‘ Manhattan apartment and asked his mother to go and buy him a sandwich while he talked to his father.
She hadn‘t been gone long when a single gunshot rang out. When Shelly returned it was to find her husband dead. He had been shot in the head and was holding the Glock pistol as it lay on his chest.
Police believe it was a clumsy attempt on Gilbert Jr‘s part to stage his father‘s suicide. It convinced no one.
When Gilbert Jr was arrested in his Chelsea apartment soon after, police found a stash that included hollow point bullets, a laser gun sight, handcuffs, a credit-card skimming device and 21 blank credit cards.
It is hard to imagine a more catastrophic decline from the man Gilbert Jr once seemed destined to be, to the man he is now suspected of having become.
He is strikingly handsome; tall, with tousled blond hair and the gym-fit body of the keen surfer that he was.
His father was an investment banker, his mother a former debutante. They had apartments on the Upper East Side and summered in their home in the Hamptons.
He was educated at the most exclusive schools in Manhattan and went on to study at Princeton.
But in the time since Gilbert Sr‘s death another version of his son‘s life – one less golden than this superficial précis – has emerged.
It is one of financial and social failure, of mental fragility and of an escalation of violence that derailed what might have been and left in its stead a grand house razed to the ground, a man with a bullet in his head and his son languishing in a cell on Riker‘s Island.
Despite his Princeton degree and talk of business ventures, the truth is that Gilbert Jr had spectacularly failed to launch.
Now Gilbert‘s fall from grace is slated to become a true-crime movie with actor Jake Gyllenhaal signed on as producer.
Gyllenhaal is teaming with Conde Nast Entertainment to produce the film titled Gilded Rage, however it‘s not clear if Gyllenhaal will be starring in it, according to .
Speaking to DailyMail shortly after Gilbert Jr‘s arrest, former girlfriend, socialite Anna Rothschild, 51, who dated him in 2014 told of a strained and fractured relationship between Gilbert Jr and his father.
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The man she knew was a loner with few friends who resented his father because he was ‘never good enough‘ for the older man.
Gilbert Jr told friends that he was starting his own hedge fund but according to Rothschild he was aimless and jobless and showed little real interest in changing.
He was ‘preoccupied‘ with his father, she said, and admitted that a friend once warned her that Gilbert Jr would, ‘chop her into little tiny pieces.‘
By the time Rothschild and Gilbert Jr met he already had a history of violence bad enough to have seen him arrested more than once.
During his time at Princeton he was busted for possessing cocaine and psychedelic mushrooms and charged with third-degree aggravated assault when he head-butted a nurse who was treating him after he was admitted to the hospital high.
He completed a pre-trial intervention program and the assault charge was dismissed the following year in 2008 leaving him to go onto complete his degree in Economics.
Five years later any lessons learned seemed to have been well and truly cast aside when Gilbert Jr violently attacked his friend and former roommate Peter Smith, Jr.
The men had met in the Hamptons in 2012 and Gilbert Jr shared Smith Jr‘s Williamsburg apartment but Smith Jr reportedly became increasingly troubled by Gilbert Jr‘s rising aggression.
It seemed focused on two targets: his father and anyone who showed interest in a former girlfriend of his, Lizzy Fraser.
Ultimately Smith Jr asked his friend to move out. In October 2013 Gilbert Jr retaliated by attacking him in the street. He hit his head repeatedly on the sidewalk and broke his nose.
Smith Jr was granted a restraining order. Gilbert Jr violated that order less than a year later when he approached his former friend on a beach in the Hamptons with thinly veiled threats and menace.
Smith Jr only mentioned the incidence to the police later that month when on September 15, 2014 his family‘s Sag Harbor home was burned to the ground.
Someone had broken a downstairs window early that morning. Ten minutes later the house, which was listed as of historic value, was on fire.
The fire blazed with such intensity that it took the combined efforts of Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton and East Hampton‘s Fire Departments as well as 75 volunteers three hours to put it out.
By then the destruction was so dire that ultimately the family had no choice but to demolish what was left of their former home.
Neither the Smith family nor the Gilberts – who were friends – have commented on the blaze but Gilbert Jr was quickly a person of interest in what was clearly an act of arson.
He was stopped driving in the Hamptons and charged with violating Smith Jr‘s protection order against him three days later.
Chillingly, a neighbor reportedly told police that on the day of the fire he saw a man standing among the gravestones of the nearby cemetery.
Police found gasoline-doused rags on the ground where the man had stood apparently watching the house burn.
Four months later Gilbert Jr made that fateful visit to his parents‘ apartment. According to prosecutors the process of mental unraveling was accelerated by Gilbert Jr‘s fear that his father was going to cut him off financially.
He had reportedly decided to stop paying the $2,400 rent on his son‘s Chelsea apartment and to reduce his weekly allowance from $600 to $400.
Financial records aired in court suggest that Gilbert Sr was not as financially flush as some believed.
He was thought to be worth $200million at the time of his death. In fact he had just $10,000 in stocks and bonds, less than $20,000 in cash and retirement funds and some $500,000 in ‘miscellaneous assets.‘
It is not clear if Gilbert Jr was aware of any of this when he went to have his conversation with the older man that day.
Friends have since told of an apparently lengthy history of mental health issues experience by Gilbert Jr. He was on some sort of medication during his days at Princeton.
He told his ex Rothschild that, through the years, he had been on Xanax for anxiety, undergone substantial psychotherapy and some reports suggest he had seen a psychiatrist as recently as the month before his father‘s shooting.
Speaking to the New York Post earlier this week his mother reflected, ‘Tommy‘s far sicker than we ever knew. That wasn‘t Tommy. He was always a rational thinker.
‘He‘s not an evil person.‘
But he is, nevertheless, a person whose own mother believes guilty of murdering his father.