Brook Astor's Mental State Challenged

Grandson admits he did not witness the talk about changing Astor's will.

ByABC News
May 18, 2009, 12:32 PM

NEW YORK, May 20, 2009— -- Brook Astor's grandson Philip Marshall admitted under cross examination today that he never discussed his grandmother's will with her and was not present when Astor signed the amendments to her will that were at the center of the criminal case against his father, Anthony Marshall.

Philip Marshall and his twin brother, Alec Marshall, 56, have both testified against their father, who is accused of manipulating Astor into changing her will to give him control of millions of dollars of her fortune.

In sometimes contentious cross examination, lawyers for Anthony Marshall tried to minimize Philip Marshall's earlier testimony that his grandmother appeared confused and disoriented in the years before her death, noting that Philip Marshall mentioned about five occasions when he visited his grandmother between 2001 and March 2004. He later said he visited more often.

Anthony Marshall faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Marshall, 84, showed little emotion as he sat in court, at times holding his head in his hand. During a break in testimony Tuesday, a day when both of his sons testified for the prosecution, Marshall sat on a bench in the court hallway with his wife, quietly crying.

Philip Marshall sparked the criminal case against his father in 2006 when he sought to have his father removed as Astor's legal guardian, accusing him of neglecting his grandmother. His grandmother, who had Alzheimer's disease, had deteriorated the point that she slept on a dog-urine stained couch in her Park Avenue apartment. Police and prosecutors began investigating after the allegations were made public.

Judge Kirke Bartley has prevented Philip Marshall from discussing many of the details of the guardianship case or the condition of Astor's apartment. Marshall did say under cross examination that he asked to be made permanent administrator of his grandmother's approximately $200 million estate. Astor died in 2007 at the age of 105.

Marshall said his application to be estate administrator is still pending. If made administrator, he could receive a fee of potentially millions of dollars, though he said he did not know the exact amount.

'I never did the math. That wasn't what it was about or what it will ever be about," he said.

Astor's mental state had deteriorated to the point where she did not recognize her family members in the last years of her life, a period in which Anthony Marshall was accused of stealing millions of dollars from his mother's estate.

In June 2004, Anthony Marshall and his wife, Charlene, told son Philip that Astor had planned to leave him and Alec $10,000 each, but Marshall "was able to change it so we got $1 million each," Philip Marshall said.

By that point, both grandsons testified, there had been several instances in which Astor did not seem to recognize her family and appeared confused and disoriented. Philip Marshall said he visited Astor in March 2004 at her Park Avenue apartment and helped her get into her car.

Philip Marshall said his elderly grandmother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, did not recognize him, was "very disoriented" and "appeared terrified."

"I said, 'We're family, we love you,' And she relaxed and squeezed my hand," Marshall said, breaking into tears on the witness stand.