Penalty in America, Legal Studies 485, Spring 2003
Cost of Gilbert trial $1.8 million
Springfield Union News, June 16, 2001
By JUDITH B. CAMERON,
Saturday, June 16, 2001 -- (SPRINGFIELD) - The cost of defending
Kristen H. Gilbert in
the federal capital murder case that ended with convictions and life
sentences totaled $1.8 million, according to figures released
Taxpayers will pay the bill because Gilbert was ruled indigent.
The costs incurred by prosecutors will be released at a later date.
The cost for stenographers and transcripts was $80,000 and the bill
for jurors $125,000.
The money spent for defense lawyers and experts was disclosed by U.S.
District Judge Michael A. Ponsor at Gilbert's final sentencing
hearing and most likely her last public appearance. She will be
imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas in the maximum security section of
the Federal Medical Center, Carswell.
Ponsor ordered consecutive life sentences for the 32-year-old former
VA nurse after a jury deadlocked in March over whether she should be
executed. Ponsor on Friday imposed a $1.5 million fine and ordered
Gilbert to pay $29,933 in restitution to family members of three of
her victims as well as for victims services provide by the state.
Even though Friday's court session was a formality, several onlookers
and many family members of the veterans who died under Gilbert's care
at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in
Northampton attended the session in the fifth floor courtroom.
Richard and Claudia Strickland, Gilbert's parents, and Gertrude
Strickland, 78, Gilbert's grandmother, also were present for the 80
minute session. Gilbert, who appeared pale and heavier since her
convictions, declined to address the court and appeared not to
acknowledge family members of the veterans who all died unexpectedly
of cardiac arrest.
Gilbert was found guilty -of poisoning four of her patients with
epinephrine, a heart stimulant, and attempting to poison two others.
She has maintained her innocence and claimed at her trial that the
veterans died a natural death.
Ponsor acknowledged that the consecutive life sentences and the fine,
with interest, were largely symbolic but necessary for the "full
In a memo attached to the list of financial costs, Ponsor said that
the fees paid to Gilbert's attorneys were substantial but "for a
trial this length, complexity and seriousness were entirely
Harry Miles, who has represented Gilbert since February, 1996 when
Gilbert became a suspect in the string of unusual deaths, was paid
$654,989; David Hoose, who was appointed to defend Gilbert in
December, 1998, was paid $369,564; and Paul Weinberg, who joined the
defense team in December, 2000 was paid $104,005. Some of the fees
paid to Miles included work done by Weinberg before he was officially
designated a defense lawyer.
The lawyers were paid $125 an hour. The federal death penalty law,
which Gilbert was prosecuted under because the crimes occurred on
federal property, also provide for up to three defense attorneys.
Miles said Friday, "When someone's life is at stake it's all the more
important that they get a fair trial."
Preparation for the trial and the trial itself, which began in
November and ended in March, was grueling, Miles said. "It was a
whole year, at least, out of my life," he said.
The cost of experts hired by defense lawyers totaled $532,930. The
largest amounts went to Anita Sarro, a lawyer and registered nurse
who worked as a consultant, $87,635; Philip Kass, a private
investigator, $66,134; and Ashraf Mozayani, a toxicologist,
Ponsor said that there were several safeguards against reckless and
overspending of defense funds.
He said he approved the defense budget, which was reviewed by the
administrative office of the U.S. Courts and by David I. Bruck, of
the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel in Columbia, South
The amounts allocated for experts were approved by Ponsor and a judge
from the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
The experts, Ponsor said, were "essential to ensure that the
defendant received a fair trial."
The cost of defense experts
The following is a list of fees and expenses for defense experts in
the Kristen H. Gilbert capital murder trial:
H. Thomas Aretz, cardiac pathologist, $14,937.
Beth Bochnak, jury consultant, $36,010.
Phillip Barron, mitigation specialist, $5,133.
Edward Bronson, venue analyst, $9,525.
George Cobb, statistician, $8,406.
Mary Fago, nursing consultant, $2,040.
Michael Gelbort, neuropsychologist, $5,547.
Seymour Halleck, psychiatrist, $8,400.
Graham R. Jones, toxicologist, $31,423.
Steven B. Karch, cardiolgist/emergency medicine,
PhilipKass, investigator, $66,134.
James Kirchhoffer, cardiologist, $54,418.
Thomas Kirtpatrick, investigator, $47,410.
Ashraf Mozayani, toxicologist, $65,956.
Jonathan Pincus, behavioral psychologist,
Anita Sarro, nursing/legal consultant,
Paige Tarr, mitigation specialist, $21,350.
David Tetrault, mitigation specialist, $1,319.
Janet Vogelsang, mitigation specialist,
Gilbert jury consultant got $82,946
Springfield Union News, April 2, 2002
By JUDITH B. CAMERON, Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD - Prosecutors who won convictions in the Kristen H.
Gilbert murder case spent $264,512 on experts, including $82,946 for
a jury consultant.
Gilbert, formerly of Easthampton and Northampton, was found guilty
March 14, 2001 of murdering four patients at the VA Hospital in Leeds
by injecting them with overdoses of the heart stimulant epinephrine.
Gilbert, 34, was sentenced to four consecutive life terms and is
serving her sentence at a federal maximum security prison in Fort
The costs for the experts and related expenses in the five-month
trial that was held in U.S. District Court in Springfield were
released Monday, in response to the Gazette's request for the
information a year ago under the federal Freedom of Information
The figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice show that
prosecutors spent $242,427 on nine experts and $22,085 on fees,
travel, lodging and transportation for
Only two of the witnesses, Dr. Thomas Graboys, a cardiologist, and
Dr. Michael Baden, a pathologist, testified at the trial.
Graboys, who works for the Roxbury VA, was paid $24,675 and was the
government's key cardiologist, testifying that the deaths of the
veterans from sudden cardiac arrest likely were caused by high
dosages of epinephrine.
Baden, a well-known forensic pathologist, supervised the exhumation
of the bodies of three veterans and was paid $14,150. Baden testified
that the most probable cause of death was epinephrine poisoning.
The highest paid expert was Jeffery Frederick, the jury consultant
who received $82,946 for work in advising Assistant U.S. Attorneys
William M. Welch and Ariane Vuono in finding 12 jurors from an
original pool of 600.
National Medical Services, the private forensic laboratory in
Philadelphia that botched tests on whether the bodies of the victims
had high amounts of epinephrine at the time of death, was paid
$65,700. Officials from the firm did not testify before the jury.
The laboratory and Baden were paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs, according to the statement on costs.
Stephen Gehlbach, an epidemiologist and dean of the School of Public
Health at the University of Massachusetts, was paid $8,400 by the
government, according to the newly released figures; Dr. Jeffery
Kaufman, a vascular surgeon, was paid $2,000; Dr. Kim Krach, a
specialist in emergency medicine, was paid $1,125; Dr. Eric
Prystowsky, a cardiologist, was paid $4,750; and Dr. Alan Wu, a
toxicologist, was paid $4,400.
The costs do not include the salaries of the prosecutors or their two
The defense of Gilbert cost $1.6 million, including $532,930 for
experts and investigators. At $125 an hour, attorneysA financial
statement from the defense was released last June.
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