Bobby Ray Gilbert is a convicted murderer in the Alabama Department of Corrections. Gilbert was arrested on February 22, 1985 for the shooting death of Walton Edison Brewer after a verbal altercation in which the victim refused to satisfy a prior financial agreement with Gilbert. After shooting Brewer, Gilbert then removed thirty six dollars that was owed to him from the victims wallet. Although Bobby Gilbert was initially charged with murder during robbery, which is a capital offense and carries the death penalty in the state of Alabama, charges were reduced to first degree murder due to Gilbert leaving $127.00 in the victim’s wallet. Gilbert openly admitted to his actions and pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
After entering prison with the possibility of parole in ten years, Gilbert proceeded to accumulate one felony conviction after another. In September of 1986, Gilbert decided that he didn't want to spend the next ten years in prison. While being housed in the DeKalb county jail in Fort Payne, Alabama, he overpowered the jailer at knifepoint and escaped from custody. Following a multi-county manhunt, Gilbert was recaptured in a wooded area and taken to a maximum security prison in West Jefferson County in Bessemer,Alabama. In 1988, while again being housed in the DeKalb county jail, Gilbert attempted yet another escape. After setting fire to the jail and upon being removed from his cell by officers, an altercation between Gilbert and the officers ensued whereupon Gilbert, being armed with a single-edged razor seriously injured one officer and almost killed a second, resulting in his being charged with attempted murder and assault in the first degree. The arson charge was later dropped as part of the plea agreement. At this point Gilbert had received a ten year sentence for escape, a twenty year sentence for assault and a forty year sentence for attempted murder and was being held in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison in Jefferson county, Alabama.
On November 2, 1990, Gilbert was released from solitary confinement and placed into the general population of Donaldson Correctional Facility. Four weeks after being placed in general population, Gilbert killed a fellow inmate in a knife altercation whereupon he was placed in solitary confinement. [Under Alabama law, anyone serving a prison sentence for a prior murder conviction who is charged in a second homicide will find it enhanced to a capital offense]. During Gilbert's subsequent trial, court records would indicate that an altercation arose after inmate Andrew Brown refused to follow through with his end of a transaction. Testimony suggests that Gilbert paid Brown the amount of one carton of cigarettes (inmate currency) to affect a cell change for Gilbert. When Gilbert discovered that his move to a different cell location had not been approved by the prison administration, he confronted inmate Brown and demanded that Brown pay back the carton of cigarettes. At this point, Brown refused, threats were exchanged and both men subsequently armed themselves with prison made knives. Testimony by the state's pathologist confirmed the cause of Andrew Brown's death as being multiple stab wounds to the chest, abdomen and back. In 1992, Gilbert was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He would spend a total of seven years in solitary confinement for the death of Andrew Brown, where he would accrue an additional 99 year sentence for promoting prison contraband.
In 1998, Gilbert would be charged with two counts of assault while being housed in the Special Management Unit at Donaldson Correctional Facility. While in the process of stabbing another inmate, he also stabbed an officer who attempted to intervene. Six years later, Gilbert would once again be released from solitary confinement into another prison's general population; this time in Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. Exactly 61 days later, Gilbert would find himself in yet another violent altercation. This time over an FHM magazine; which led to inmate Harold Cutman being taken from the prison to an outside medical facility where he would receive a total of 273 stitches. For his part, Gilbert received a black eye and another life sentence for attempted murder. In 2007, Gilbert would accrue yet another 99 year sentence for promoting prison contraband for the second time. In July 2008, Bobby "Snake" Gilbert, as he's come to be known amongst his friends, thwarted the execution of death row inmate Thomas Arthur when Gilbert confessed to being the actual killer of Troy Wicker; victim for which Arthur was convicted of murdering. While Arthur remains on death row, authorities continue to disprove Gilbert's claim so as to proceed with Arthur's execution. As of 2014, the issue remains unresolved.
Due to Gilbert's violent nature and assault within the prison system, he spent 22 of the first 25 years in prison in solitary confinement where he developed his latent art skills and as a result was featured on several episodes of MSNBC's Lockup.
Bobby Ray Gilbert 14x7.5 charcoal and pencil drawing on paper. Signed and dated on the lower right corner. This is Gilbert's rendition of J.D. Hillberry's drawing of the same name.