Grand Jury Panel Gets Evidence in Nun's Murder

By Mark Reiter
Toledo Blade [Toledo OH]
Downloaded May 1, 2004

Evidence in the 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in the sacristy of a chapel at Mercy Hospital was presented yesterday to a Lucas County grand jury.

However, the panel's decision on whether to indict the Rev. Gerald Robinson for her murder will not be released until Monday, when documents will be filed with the county clerk of courts.

Father Robinson, 66, was arrested and charged last week with the April 5, 1980, murder of Sister Margaret Ann, who was strangled and then stabbed between 27 and 32 times.

The Roman Catholic priest, who is now semiretired, was serving at the hospital as chaplain at the time of the Easter weekend murder.

Sister Margaret Ann, who would have celebrated her 72nd birthday the following day, was found about 8 a.m. by a nun preparing organ music for Holy Saturday services.

John Weglian, chief of the special units division of the county prosecutor's office, said the grand jury was asked to consider two charges - aggravated murder and murder - but the panel could indict Father Robinson on only one of the counts.

Both charges have mandatory sentences of life in prison, but have different eligibility requirements for parole.

Aggravated murder, which is the more serious charge, allows for someone to ask for parole after serving 20 years in prison. The parole eligibility standard for murder is 15 years.

The case was presented by assistant prosecutors J. Christopher Anderson and Tim Braun.

Prosecutors could not ask the grand jury to consider specifications for a possible death-penalty sentence because capital punishment was unconstitutional in Ohio when the murder occurred. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public. If Father Robinson is indicted for the crime, the case will be assigned randomly to one of the county's 10 Common Pleas judges.

Mr. Weglian said an arraignment could occur Monday but would be contingent on what judge draws the case and

whether the judge is available to handle the matter.

Father Robinson was being held yesterday in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $200,000 bond. Toledo attorney John Thebes represented the defendant at his arraignment in Municipal Court earlier this week.

Alan Konop, an attorney with more than 40 years of experience, including numerous high-profile murder cases, joined Father Robinson's defense team several days ago.

Jack Sparagowski, a Sylvania Township resident who is an active parishioner at St. Anthony's Catholic Church where Father Robinson often said Mass in Polish, said two other attorneys have joined the legal team.

John Callahan, an attorney since 1952, and Jerome Phillips also are representing Father Robinson, Mr. Sparagowski said. Mr. Callahan said Mr. Thebes asked him to assist in the case. He said he does not know the priest.


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