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Catholic Priest Loses Appeal in Ohio Murder Conviction

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By Bianca Coombs, Christian Post Contributor
January 9, 2012|6:34 pm

An Ohio Catholic priest lost his appeal on Monday for his conviction of the killing of a nun in a hospital chapel.

Fr. Gerald Robinson, a Roman Catholic Priest, was not convicted of the 1980 killing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl until years later in 2006 after prosecutors decided to reopen the case.

Both Robinson, 73, and Pahl, 71, worked at the Toledo, Ohio Mercy Hospital. Robinson was the hospital chaplain and even presided over Sister Margaret’s funeral.

Attorneys Robinson argued that police reports found after Robinson’s trial could have changed the guilty judgment. The Toledo judge ruled that the 136 documents had not contained information relevant to the case.

“Had counsel known of the additional documents, they would have merely possessed more of the same type of information, already disclosed and considered preparing for trial,” said Judge Gene Zmuda according to The Toledo Blade.

According to The Associated Press, church historians believe this to be the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.

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MSNBC.com reported on the case in 2006. According to those reports, examiners believe a sword shaped letter opener belonging to the priest matched the wounds of the nun who was killed on Holy Saturday.

The blade found in the Rev. Robinson’s room fit the nun's wounds "like a key in a lock," asserted Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Dean Mandros in his opening statements of the 2006 trial. Investigators say the bloodstains on an altar cloth matched those found on Robinson’s letter opener.

The defense believed prosecutors continued their investigation after Robinson’s arrest because they had not yet proven their case. Prosecutors did not try to prove a motive in the killing.

"This is all being done after the humiliation and degradation of the arrest," said Robinson’s attorney Alan Konop in his opening statement.

The Defense said investigators took samples of a substance found on Pahl’s underwear and under her fingernails which did not match Robinson's DNA.

Sister Pahl was stabbed 31 times. Nine of the stabs were made into the shape of a cross. Prosecutors believe it was part of a sacrificial ritual to which Robinson secretly adhered. They had reopened the case after receiving a letter from a woman who alleged she was molested by Robinson and forced to participate in a similar ritual which involved human sacrifice.

According to The Washington Post, Robinson is still a priest but banned from the ministry. He is currently serving 15 years-to-life in prison.

 

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