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Thomas Gilbert Jr., 31, is charged with murder for allegedly shooting his father

By Tara Fowler
Updated December 22, 2015 11:30 AM
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Credit: Amanda Gordon/Getty

Thomas Gilbert Jr., the the son accused of killing his hedge fund founder father, was found competent to stand trial on Monday, PEOPLE confirms.

Gilbert Jr., 31, is charged with murder for allegedly shooting his father, Thomas Gilbert Sr., in the head at his Manhattan residence on Jan. 5 and staging it to look like a suicide. He was arrested just a day later.

The two had reportedly argued over money, with Gilbert Sr. telling his son he no longer planned to pay his rent and would decrease his weekly allowance by a few hundred dollars.

Gilbert Jr.’s attorneys had argued that their client was mentally ill, but in her ruling New York Supreme Court Justice Melissa C. Jackson wrote that the question wasn’t a medical one, but a legal one: Does Gilbert Jr. “lack the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and/or assist in his own defense?”

According to court documents obtained by The East Hampton Star, Jackson ultimately deemed Gilbert Jr. mentally fit, writing, “The court was particularly persuaded after observing the defendant in court on many occasions, his videotaped interview with Dr. Kirschner [a forensic psychologist hired by the Manhattan district attorney’s office], and a recorded telephone conversation from Rikers Island between the defendant and an unknown female.”

In that phone call, “He was laughing, rational, and engaged in a casual, frank conversation” Jackson wrote, adding that Gilbert Jr. has been taking Chinese lessons and doing yoga while in jail.

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The judge was also convinced by a letter sent by Gilbert Jr. to District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. appealing to the prosecutor because they attended the same elite prep school, according to The New York Post.

“From the beginning of this high-profile case,” Gilbert Jr. wrote, “I’ve been railroaded through hearings with no access to capital.”

He went on to ask for bail. “Further incarceration will not only be physically dangerous, but also continue to inflict irreparable damage on my personal life and career,” he wrote.

“Ideally my optimal goal is to dismiss and seal [the] indictment,” he concluded.

Gilbert Jr.’s attorneys said the letter was proof of their client’s mental incompetence, but prosecutors argued that it showed he could make a rational argument.

Friends of the family have called Gilbert Jr. “troubled.”

“Tommy had everything you could ask for. An Ivy League education, a house in the Hamptons, memberships at exclusive clubs,” a friend, who wished to remain anonymous, told PEOPLE earlier this year. “But that didn’t matter because he was mentally ill.”

Gilbert Jr. has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He is being held without bail.