Andrew Gilbertson, 40, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to robbery and burglary. But in March a jury found him both guilty and sane.
On the day of his sentencing, Gilbertson insisted he was mentally ill.
“I get into tantrums and hit myself because I don’t want to do the things the voices tell me,” he told Superior Court Judge Donald Umhofer on Monday.
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According to trial testimony, Gilbertson entered a Bank of America branch in San Luis Obispo in July 2013 carrying a pink backpack and handed a teller a note, demanding "Give me the money." After the robbery, he spent $40 at Frank's Famous Hot Dogs in San Luis Obispo, $100 at a Diamond Adult World location and purchased a meth pipe.
On Monday, Gilbertson reiterated what he said during his trial testimony in March — that the Virgin Mary had ordered him to rob the bank.
During his testimony, Gilbertson dug into his pants, removed feces and ate it, prompting Umhofer to halt the proceedings. The following day, Gilbertson, who had not been previously restrained at the stand, was handcuffed to the waist.
Gilbertson had previously eaten his feces at San Luis Obispo County Jail during interviews with two different psychiatric experts.
While Deputy District Attorney David Pomeroy suggested during the trial that the act was for show, defense attorney Brian Buckley said Gilbertson has a history of hearing voices and hurting himself. That self-abuse has caused him to blind himself in one eye, disfigure his face and stuff toilet paper in his ears.
Gilbertson appeared in court on Monday wearing an eye patch, with a large scar on his forehead. Half of his head was shaved.
Despite his past, Buckley said Monday his client will rehabilitate if he’s treated for his symptoms.
“The prison situation is not ideal for him to get treatment,” Buckley said.
In a letter to the court, the defendant’s mother, Lucy Gilbertson, said her son’s recent behavior was a cry for help.
“Andrew was never like this as a child,” she wrote. “Somewhere in his adulthood, his mental state of mind changed.”
Pomeroy, who tried the case, said Monday that Gilbertson does have a mental illness. But he has maintained that the defendant knows the difference between right and wrong.
“I do think he exaggerates his symptoms and he exaggerates his mental disorder,” Pomeroy said.
Gilbertson, he added, has no remorse for his actions and “limited insight to his conduct.”
The robbery was motivated, Pomeroy said, by a desire to buy meth, “which I’m convinced just makes his mental disorder worse.”
Umhofer — like Pomeroy and Michael Selby, a forensic psychiatrist who concluded that Gilbertson was sane — believes Gilbertson exaggerates his symptoms. And the act of eating his feces on the stand, the judge said Monday, was part of that.
“I found it to be nothing short of a performance,” Umhofer said.
Umhofer noted that several psychiatric witnesses have evaluated Gilbertson, yet there is no consensus on what ails him.
“We don’t know what’s wrong with him,” the judge said.
As part of the sentence, Umhofer said, he will recommend that Gilbertson be given a psychiatric evaluation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which will then determine where Gilbertson will serve his time.
In weighing the sentence, Umhofer also considered Gilbertson’s four previous prison stints. His prior offenses include a sexual battery conviction for which he has to register with California’s Megan’s Law sex offender registry.