Crime

Man accused of robbing SLO bank eats feces in court

Andrew Gilbertson appears in court Thursday, March 26, 2015, for his trial on bank robbery charges.
Andrew Gilbertson appears in court Thursday, March 26, 2015, for his trial on bank robbery charges. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

UPDATE: Jury returns verdict in case of man who ate feces in court »

An alleged bank robber who ate his own feces while on the witness stand this week was legally sane when he committed the robbery, a prosecution witness testified Thursday.

“It would appear to me that he exaggerates his symptoms,” Michael Selby, a forensic psychiatrist, told the jury in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Andrew Gilbertson, 40, a convicted sex offender from Paso Robles, appeared in court with his head half shaved and a large bandage on his forehead. Previously unrestrained in the courtroom, Thursday he was cuffed at the hips.

He is accused of robbing a Bank of America in San Luis Obispo in July 2013.

Gilbertson allegedly entered the bank wearing a child’s pink backpack, then handed a teller a note demanding money.

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

While testifying in his own defense Wednesday, Gilbertson reached into his pants, removed fecal matter and ate it, prompting a court recess. Selby began his testimony Wednesday and concluded Thursday.

During Selby’s testimony Thursday, Gilbertson occasionally muttered incomprehensible statements. Later, as Superior Court Judge Donald Umhofer read jurors instructions, Gilbertson blurted, “God save the queen!”

According to Selby, Gilbertson claimed that voices and the Virgin Mary made him rob the bank.

Gilbertson has eaten his feces before, Selby said.

During his interview with Gilbertson at the County Jail, Selby testified, Gilbertson said, “I hear voices. I see ghosts. I’m hungry.” Then, after complaining about the food at the jail, he ate his own feces, as he did later in court.

“In your opinion, was he eating feces for show?” asked deputy district attorney Dave Pomeroy.

“I believe so,” Selby said.

Gilbertson told Selby he knew it was wrong to rob a bank, said Selby, who believes Gilbertson was sane at the time.

Gilbertson has a lengthy criminal history with convictions that include sexual battery, aggravated battery, failure to register as a sex offender and car theft.

He also has a history of mental illness.

While his defense expressed a doubt to his ability to understand the charges against him and assist in his own defense, Superior Court Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney declared him competent to stand trial in February 2014.

Attorneys will offer closing arguments in the trial Friday morning.

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