43° Good Morning
43° Good Morning
Long IslandCrime

Sister of Shannan Gilbert in court on child-neglect charges

Sarra Gilbert is escorted to a waiting sheriff's

Sarra Gilbert is escorted to a waiting sheriff's van as she leaves Family Court in Kingston, New York, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Credit: Johnny Milano

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Sarra Gilbert, awaiting trial in an upstate jail on charges she fatally stabbed her mother, was ordered Friday to stay away from her 7-year-old son for a year as a judge ruled she neglected the child.

Gilbert, 27, has been held without bail at the Ulster County Jail since she was arrested on July 23 and charged with second-degree murder in the July stabbing death of Mari Gilbert, 52, who is also the mother of Shannan Gilbert, a sex worker whose disappearance led to the discovery of 10 sets of remains on Gilgo Beach.

Sarra Gilbert appeared Friday in Ulster County Family Court, where she entered an “admission” — the civil equivalent to a guilty plea in criminal court — to charges she neglected her son.

She was indicted in May on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated animal cruelty for the killing of her pit bull Princess, according to court documents.

The details of the neglect suffered by the child at the hands of Sarra Gilbert were not spelled out in court Friday. Her court-appointed attorney in family court, Andrew Gilday of Kingston, declined to comment.

But a neglect charge also heard at the same time against the child’s father, Emmanuel Martinez, 34, alleges that he was in possession of marijuana while in a hotel room with the child, according to a county social services official.

Martinez, who is currently incarcerated in the state Department of Corrections-operated Willard Drug Treatment Campus in Seneca County and participated in the proceedings by phone, was to also enter an admission, but at the last minute opted for a trial set for early next year instead.

Family Court Judge Anthony McGinty issued an order of protection against Sarra Gilbert for the child until 2017 and said of Gilbert’s admission: “The child is a neglected child and Miss Gilbert has consented to that finding.”

Meanwhile, Sarra Gilbert is set to go on trial for her mother’s murder in upstate Ellenville as early as January, said her criminal attorney, John Ray of Miller Place, who is planning an insanity defense.

Ray, who attended his client’s family court appearance, said he had a separate conference with the criminal court judge and prosecutor earlier Friday and still is awaiting the results of a competency exam that Sarra Gilbert underwent last month.

Ray has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client, who he said is schizophrenic and was not taking her medication and was “hearing voices” in the days before the killing of her mother.

Ray said Gilbert also had been arguing with family members for custody of her son, who is now living with his paternal aunt and uncle in the Albany area.

“She’s a sweet, lovely girl, except she has that one screw loose, as it were,” Ray said Friday. “She knows what happened, it’s just that she believes her mother was possessed and that she had to do that. Voices were telling her what to do.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News