A West Palm Beach couple no longer has to fear that the death of one son will lead to the execution of another.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Charles Burton on Friday found Brandin Gonsalves, 24, not guilty by reason of insanity for stabbing his 25-year-old brother 69 times in an attack he claimed was ordered by God.
Burton’s finding means that Gonsalves, who had faced the death penalty for the July stabbing, will be taken to a state mental institution for treatment. If and when mental health experts decide that Gonsalves, of West Palm Beach, is no longer a threat to himself or others he will be freed, said Assistant State Attorney Barbara Burns. Burton will review his progress every six months for the next five years.
Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Marshall, who represented Gonsalves, said his parents were relieved their son will receive the treatment he has needed since he was first diagnosed with a variety of mental ills more than 10 years ago.
Under former State Attorney Pete Antonacci, Gonsalves faced a possible death sentence. It was Antonacci’s policy initially to seek the death penalty in all first-degree murder cases, then drop it if additional facts or circumstances dictated that the ultimate punishment wasn’t warranted.
In Gonsalves’ case, the policy was cruel, defense attorneys said. Already grieving the loss of one son, Naomi and Gerard Gonsalves spent months fearing they would lose the other.
When Dave Aronberg replaced Antonacci in January, he reviewed the case and dropped plans to seek the death penalty. But the decision wasn’t based on sympathy for his parents, Burns said.
The combination of Gonsalves’ long-standing mental illness and his limited criminal record made him ineligible to receive the death penalty under state law, she said.