The five-week trial of a Princeton graduate accused of killing his father over a decrease in his weekly allowance concluded this week. 34-year-old Thomas Gilbert Jr. is accused of shooting his father in the head on January 4, 2015.
Thomas Gilbert Jr., or Tommy, as he is known to family and friends, is the son of the late Thomas Gilbert Sr., who was a founding managing partner of lucrative hedge fund Wainscott Capital. Tommy played football at Princeton and graduated with a degree in economics. At the time of his father’s murder; he was 30, unemployed, and receiving approximately $1,000 per week from his parents.
Acording to his defense attorney Alford Levine, Tommy began to “deteriorate” around the time he started at Princeton. Tommy’s former therapist, Susan Evans, testified that he had a preoccupation with paranoid thoughts that interfered with his ability to function in the years before the shooting. Evans had recommended Tommy be screened for paranoid schizophrenia shortly before the murder. Tommy had also been prescribed antipsychotic medication, which Evans testified he rarely took.
Tommy’s relationship with his parents was strained at best, and he constantly asked for money. In October 2013, Tommy emailed his father, asking him for “space” but emailed his mother several weeks later asking for money for a garade, clothes, and stock services. After Tommy bought a gun in 2014, his father began considering lowering his allowance. Thomas Sr. wished his son to be financially independent, but Thomas Jr. had thousands of dollars in credit card debt.
Around 2014, Tommy’s computer showed searches for websites that discussed forging checks and check templates. Tommy is also facing charges from credit card forging devices found in his home at the time of his arrest for his father’s shooting. In November 2014, someone used Tommy’s computer to search for websites such as “Hire-a-Killer.com” and “Find-a-Hitman.com”.
Thomas Sr. reduced Tommy’s allowance from $1,000 to $800 and then $600. The day of his death, he had decreased his regular deposit into his son’s account to $300.
On January 4, 2015, Tommy went to his parents Manhattan apartment and asked his mother, Shelley, to get him a sandwich. Shelley Gilbert returned home to find her husband on their bedroom floor, dead of a gunshot wound to the head and a gun on his chest.
Tommy’s defense attorney has argued his client was clinically insane at the time of the shooting. In New York, a defendant must prove an inability to distinguish right from wrong for an insanity plea defense. Tommy has been deemed fit to stand trial after undergoing four mental evaluations, although one was inconclusive.
According to Levine, Tommy isn’t “faking being sick,” but he “faked being well.” Levine claims Tommy’s family tried to persuade him to seek help for his mental illness for over a decade. After calling 911, Shelly Gilbert told the dispatcher that her husband was shot by her son, “who is nuts.”
In response, the prosecution showed surveillance footage depicting Tommy, wearing a hoodie and carrying a gym bag entering his family’s apartment building and leaving less than 15 minutes later. The prosecution’s forensic psychiatrist expert testified that Tommy positioned the gun in his father’s hand as if his death was a result of suicide, he left the scene, and he turned off the location monitor on his phone. According to the prosecution, these attempts to conceal his behavior show that he was aware that what he was doing was wrong.
Tommy did not appear in person for most of his trial, but appeared for closing arguments this past week. He is being held at Rikers Island while jury deliberations begin.