CRIME

Philip Gilberti, accused of murder-suicide, set free due to computer problem, officials say

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A courthouse computer system problem might have allowed a man to be set free Monday despite an extensive criminal history and a number of protective orders.

Philip Gilberti had an extensive criminal record and had several protective orders against him.

Police say Philip Gilberti killed his estranged wife, Heather McGuire, Tuesday before killing himself hours later.

Thursday afternoon Terry Bolling from the District Court of Maryland in Montgomery County confirmed their computer system was down Monday. And they had no way to access information from the Dept. of Corrections.

That may have contributed to Gilberti being released on bond. And walking away without having to put up any money.

Gilberti was arrested twice over the weekend for stalking and violating a protective orderand. And he was jailed.

District Court Judge Barry Hamilton, released Gilberti from prison the day before he killed his estranged wife.

Gilberti, 51, was wanted in connection with the Tuesday morning shooting death of McGuire when he was found dead of what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound several hours later.

Galberti had been arrested at a Rockville McDonald's for violating a Protective Order..

According to court documents, Gilberti had threatened McGuire. "If I catch you with another man I will kill you both. And if you call the police on me, I better be locked up for a long time because I will be coming back for you."

Despite that threat, the judge allowed him to walk out of court on bond. Without putting up a dime.

On Wednesday, several people who knew Gilberti said that his reputation for violence goes way back. Gilberti, a former professional boxer, was arrested in 1992 for robbery; in 1993 for theft and reckless endangerment; in 1994 for battery, in 1995 for stalking.

In 1996, he was charged with attempted murder in Nevada, pleaded to a lesser charge and served 10 years in prison.

More recently, though, court documents show that Gilberti was arrested last weekend for stalking and violating a protective order. McGuire had previously left handwritten notes detailing her terror, including a series of death threats, but Gilberti was released from jail without bond pending a hearing that was supposed to occur Tuesday.

Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin says, "We thought we did everything to keep him incarcerated....No matter how much we do there are sometimes tragic endings to these."

The sheriff says they knew about his long criminal record, but the judge may not have. Because the court's computer system was down for six hours on Monday, the judge couldn't access criminal records from the Department of Corrections.

Maguire and her children came to the Family Justice Center several times for help. She'd taken out numerous protective orders and used the social services and counseling available. She was in shelters several times because the situation got very violent.

The sheriff says everyone at the center feels terribly that Gilberti had been freed.

"The fact that he was able to track her down and allegedly shoot her is devastating," he says.

But they don't want that tragedy to dissuade other victims from coming forward. More than 3,000 protective orders are issued every year and they can be obtained 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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