34-year-old Princeton grad Thomas Gilbert Jr. is now facing life behind bars after a jury convicted him of murdering his own father in cold blood. The father’s crime? Cutting off his adult son’s $1,000 weekly allowance.
According to juror no. 11, Steven David Torres, the jury pool was split on whether a “guilty” verdict was the morally and legally right decision to make.
“There was a lot of emotion, one side just yelling, ‘He’s guilty! He’s guilty!’ and the other side was like, ‘He’s not, he’s sick,'” Torres stated in an interview with the New York Post.
It wasn’t until another juror reminded them of the infamous “Coke can” that they all came together to make a decision.
On the night of the murder, Gilbert Jr.’s mother testified that her son requested she go out and buy him a can of Coke. Shelley Gilbert testified that this was a premeditated request, as Thomas knew that she didn’t keep that particular soda in the house. Her buying him a Coke also bought him time to shoot his millionaire, hedge fund father for slashing his allowance, which bankrolled a lavish lifestyle to which the man had grown accustomed.
“The can of coke: it was really our ‘aha’ moment,” said Torres. Juror no. 8, Julie Thiry-Couvillion, agreed, calling it her “lightbulb moment.”
For other jury members, the Coke can wasn’t necessary to convince them of the 34-year-old’s guilt.
Juror no. 10, Linda Corcelles-Alvarez, believed that he was guilty the whole time. “It was all about money. He just shot him in cold blood,” she said.
While many of them believed that Gilbert Jr. suffered a mental illness, with his former therapist testifying that “paranoid thoughts” interfered with his daily ability to function, Assistant District Attorney Craig Ortner suggested that he simply became enraged when his father took away his ride on the gravy train.
“The defendant rejected hard work, instead, preferring an easy life handed to him on a silver platter,” said Ortner. “It wasn’t until the dad started cutting off his money that the defendant decided to kill him. Literally hours before he was killed, (his father) further cut his allowance to $300.”
The question of an insanity plea was quickly squashed by the sheer amount of premeditation and concealment surrounding the murder.
“In my opinion, anyone who attempts to conceal his behavior around a crime does so because they’re aware of what they’re doing is wrong,” said forensic psychiatrist Jason Hershberger, who was unable to examine the murderer based on Gilbert Jr.’s refusal to cooperate.
He was deemed well enough to stand trial following 4 evaluations of mental competency, though one of them did come back inconclusive.
According to prosecutors, Thomas Gilbert began incrementally reducing his leech son’s allowance in 2014 in a vain effort to encourage self-reliance. After a final reduction in 2015, Gilbert Jr. snapped, shooting his father with a Glock he had purchased, and then placing the gun in his father’s hand to make it look like a suicide. Other reports suggest that prior to the crime, the son had visited websites such as Hire-a-Killer.com and Find-a-Hitman.com
Despite fleeing the home, the murderer was arrested after his mother called the police and reported hearing the gunshots and finding the body of her deceased husband. Gilbert Jr. was convicted on second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, and authorities are reporting his sentencing is scheduled for August 9th.
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