By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
DeAngelo Thomas, 30, will spend the rest of his life behind bars, with no opportunity for parole. Thomas was sentenced on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in a Jacksonville courtroom for the shooting death of 40-year-old David Gilbert.
Gilbert, who grew up in Madison County, was a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. He was the father of three children and the son of Jim and Wilmarie Gilbert of Lee.
Before the sentencing hearing proceeded, attorneys for the defense asked for a mistrial, because two jurors had been caught for allegedly searching the Internet and looking at newspapers for information on Thomas. The judge denied the request and allowed two alternate jurors to fill their posts.
On May 18, 2008, Thomas had walked out of the prison in Mayo a free man.
A year later, Thomas was arrested in Baker County for armed robbery. The jury in Thomas’ trial for the robbery let him walk, because of a “reasonable doubt.” Investigators said that their information on Thomas was “good,” not “great,” and the jurors let Thomas walk free.
On April 16, 2010, Thomas was burglarizing what he thought was supposed to be a drug dealer’s apartment. Instead, it was Gilbert’s apartment. While he was searching for marijuana to steal, Gilbert and his girlfriend returned to the apartment with Gilbert’s three-year-old daughter, Hannah. Thomas shoved Gilbert’s girlfriend, Stacy Hass, against a wall. Hass grabbed Hannah and put her in the pantry and told her to hide. Thomas went after Gilbert. A struggle ensued and Gilbert was shot eight times.
During the sentencing hearing, Gilbert’s mother testified, telling how David would never be able to walk Hannah down the aisle or be able to see his sons graduate from high school.
The team of prosecutors include State Attorney Angela Corey and Assistant State Attorney Jeff Moody.
The jury was split, with six of them suggesting life imprisonment, while the other six wanted the death penalty. In the end, Thomas received life without parole.