The defendants allegedly took advantage of Astor's declining mental state to have documents executed that redirect the bulk of her sizable estate to Mr. Marshall instead of various charities. Marshall and Morrissey are charged with 18 criminal counts, including fraud and conspiracy.
Brooke Astor died in 2007 at age 105. She reportedly suffered from dementia. Her last will, created on Jan 30, 2002, gave an estimated $198 million to charity, but three later amendments instead gave Marshall most of her estate. Defense lawyers say that Astor knew what she was doing when she changed her will.
A year before Astor's death, Marshall's son Philip Marshall asked a court to remove his father as his grandmother's guardian. Subsequently, Susan Robbins, a specialist in guardianship and eldercare law, was appointed to represent Astor. Robbins came to believe that codicils to the will were forged. One clue cited by Robbins: Although Astor's signature on her third codicil was almost perfect, on prior codicils she had trouble writing her name.