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Insanity Defense Fails Former Expert Witness

March 19, 1991

MIAMI (AP) _ A jury rejected the insanity defense of a psychiatrist who often testified in court that other criminal defendants were insane.

Dr. Michael Gilbert, 75, was found guilty Monday of bribing a police officer to frame a Miami lawyer with a cocaine bust.

Witnesses testified Gilbert had given a box stuffed with $2,000 to undercover cop Kennedy Rosario in August.

The Dade County jury acquitted Gilbert of bribing a second police officer, Dale Bowlin. Two jurors said the state didn’t have enough evidence to convict him.

Gilbert spent 34 years in Miami courtrooms as an expert witness, testifying on behalf of an estimated 5,000 defendants. Over the years, he became a wealthy and socially prominent figure.

Defense attorney Joseph Paglino tried to convince the jury that his client was criminally insane, calling Gilbert ″demented, deranged, nuts.″

″Obviously, we didn’t buy it,″ said jury foreman Otto Latimer.

Dade Circuit Judge Leonard E. Glick set sentencing for April 30. The potential sentence ranges from probation to 30 months in prison.

When the verdict was read, Gilbert buried his face in his hands. Later, he declined comment.

″It was a strange case, and a strange verdict,″ Paglino said.

″I’m satisfied,″ Assistant State Attorney Russell Killinger said.

Gilbert never testified. Three psychiatrists and psychologists testified for the defense that the doctor was insane at the time of the crime.

Prosecutors said Gilbert coolly plotted first to murder an assistant public defender, and then to frame him with drugs. The public defender, Arthur Spiegel, was the father of Gilbert’s girlfriend’s three-year-old nephew.

Gilbert had accused Spiegel of abusing the boy, but state authorities who investigated found no evidence to support the claim.

Among his celebrated cases was that of Jack ″Murph the Surf″ Murphy, a jewel thief and accused killer. Gilbert called him ″sick,″ but Murphy was convicted.

In the 1970s, Gilbert made national headlines when he testified at the trial of teen-ager Ronny Zamora, who was charged with murdering an old lady. Gilbert said Zamora was afflicted by ″television intoxication.″

Zamora was convicted.

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