Gallery Furniture arson suspect's trial delayed due to brain tumor

Gallery Furniture arson suspect's trial delayed due to brain tumor

Prosecutors said Robert Gillham, 68, wanted revenge against his former boss, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, so he set the fire in May of 2009. It caused an estimated $25 million in damage.


by staff & Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News

Posted on March 26, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 26 at 6:45 PM

HOUSTON— The arson trial of a man accused of setting a massive fire at Gallery Furniture has been delayed again because of medical issues.

Robert Gillham, 69, is accused of setting fire to the Gallery Furniture warehouse in May of 2009. The blaze caused an estimated $25 million in damage.

Gillham, a former Gallery Furniture employee, has been behind bars since his arrest.

Gillham's attorney said his client has a brain tumor that's causing seizures and sight problems.

Brent Podolsky said nothing has been done to treat the tumor, which is benign.

Gillham is scheduled to have another competency hearing in July.

Gillham's trial was originally scheduled for last March, but was delayed because of unspecified medical issues.

In a jailhouse interview last year, Gillham told 11 News he wasn’t afraid because he’s innocent.

"I have been on juries in New York City. No, this does not scare me," Gillham said. "Do I look nervous?"

Since his arrest, Gillham said he’s written two books, been beaten twice in jail and met with several psychiatrists.

"I have had psychiatrists. Everyone said I’m the most sane person they have ever known in their life," he said.

Gillham is facing a charge of first-degree arson. The conviction carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. He believes he will get off.

"If things go right, I should, but they have some sort of tape recording that was done when I was under drugs," he said.

Prosecutors say Gillham set the fire to get revenge on his former boss, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.

"It wasn’t like a pile of sticks and making a bonfire, it was someone who wanted to burn the warehouse," said Gillham. "Whoever did this is a mean SOB. I would never do that."