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Killer, 77, of Ailing Wife Almost 'Unglued' by Film

January 12, 1987|United Press International

AVON PARK, Fla. — Roswell Gilbert, convicted of killing his ailing wife of 51 years in what he called an act of love, said today he "almost came unglued" watching the television movie about the case but is convinced he saved her from suffering and would do it again.

Gilbert, 77, sat tearfully with 25 fellow inmates at a central Florida prison and watched as actor Robert Young played him in NBC's "Mercy or Murder" Sunday night.

Gilbert, who must serve 25 years of his life sentence before being released unless he is granted clemency, called a prison news conference and said the movie was fair and accurate. He said that Young did "a beautiful job" in the lead role and that seeing his wife, Emily, portrayed on television moved him to tears.

"I almost walked out," he said. "I almost came unglued."

Asked if he would do the same thing again, Gilbert said, "Sure. I have no regrets of this. I regret my wife got ill and died and we couldn't spend the rest of our lives together."

The retired engineer has insisted that he shot his wife twice in the head as an act of love and that she had pleaded with him repeatedly to end her suffering. Emily, 72, suffered from the bone disease osteoporosis and from brain-degenerative Alzheimer's disease.

"If I hadn't done it she'd be suffering much more than I am in prison and that's it. I stand with that," Gilbert said today in a brief appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America."

He conceded that his stoic manner during his March, 1985, trial worked against him.

"I blew the case on my testimony," Gilbert said. "I know that now. They thought I was cold. I was coming apart inside. I was trying to cover it up."

Gilbert had hoped the movie would arouse public support for clemency.

Gov. Bob Graham recommended clemency for Gilbert in August, 1985, but could not get the three votes he needed from his six-member Cabinet. Florida swore in a new governor, Bob Martinez, and two new Cabinet members last week.

Martinez does not plan any action on the Gilbert case, his press spokesman, Doug Hoyt, said.

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