Prosecutor son seeks father's release in fatal Brink's heist

Full Screen
1 / 5

In this May 1985, photo provided by Chesa Boudin, Boudin's father, David Gilbert, makes fists as his father holds him during a prison visit at Auburn Correctional Facility in Auburn, N.Y. Gilbert, now 76, was convicted of felony murder in the Oct. 20, 1981 robbery of $1.6 million from an armored Brink's truck at the Nanuet Mall north of New York City that resulted in the deaths of three people. Boudin, now San Francisco's District Attorney, and others are lobbying New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for clemency for Gilbert, one of the oldest and longest held inmates in New York state. (Courtesy of Chesa Boudin via AP)

David Gilbert went to prison a revolutionary, raising his fist and scorning authorities who prosecuted him for an infamous 1981 armored truck robbery in which a guard and two police officers were killed.

Four decades later, advocates for the 76-year-old inmate’s release include San Francisco’s chief prosecutor, the son left behind at 14 months old when both his parents were arrested.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve known that the most likely scenario is that my father is going to die in prison,” said Chesa Boudin, sworn in as district attorney last year.

Boudin ran a progressive campaign in which he said visiting his parents Kathy Boudin and Gilbert in prison showed him the criminal justice system was broken.

Gilbert is among the last surviving people still imprisoned in the bungled 1981 Brink’s robbery north of New York City, often seen as a last gasp of ’60s radicalism. The robbery still stirs emotions, especially among local officials and relatives of the slain men who have watched with exasperation as others convicted in the crime, including Kathy Boudin, walk out of prison.

As one of many voices lobbying New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Chesa Boudin’s support for his father’s clemency is personal. But the case also revolves around questions of justice the Democrat and former public defender deals with as a district attorney.

“No matter whether my father lives the rest of his life in a cage or whether he’s released to spend his few remaining years with family, we can’t undo the harm that his crime cost. And we can’t bring back the men who were so wrongfully killed that day.” he said in a recent interview. “At what point is enough enough? I don’t know.”

Gilbert is serving a 75-year-to-life sentence at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility for the Oct. 20, 1981 robbery of $1.6 million from a Brink’s truck at a suburban Rockland County mall. He is eligible for parole in 2056.