Priest Lied to Police, Investigator Tells Court
Robinson Said Killer Confessed to Him
By Mark Reiter
February 4, 2006
The Rev. Gerald Robinson lied to police when he was questioned in 1980 about the slaying of a nun in the chapel at the former Mercy Hospital, an investigator said yesterday at a hearing in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Tom Ross, an investigator for the county prosecutor's office, said Father Robinson told then-Toledo police Detective Art Marx that he had heard the confession of the person who killed Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, but he later recanted the statement.
Father Robinson, who was a chaplain at the hospital, emerged as a suspect early in the investigation and was interviewed by Mr. Marx in the weeks after the nun was strangled and stabbed multiple times in the hospital chapel. He was indicted for the murder of Sister Margaret Ann in 2004, after authorities reopened the investigation into the murder. A trial in the high-profile case is scheduled to begin April 17.
Father Robinson, whose presence at previous court hearings has been waived, was in the courtroom for the nearly five-hour-long hearing.
During the hearing before Judge Thomas Osowik, Mr. Ross said Mr. Marx dismissed Father Robinson's statement that someone confessed to the murder because divulging a confession violated the priest's oath of confidentiality.
Mr. Ross said Father Robinson then admitted to Mr. Marx that he made it up.
The hearing was held to address issues raised by the priest's defense attorneys, including the existence of any record of interviews that Mr. Marx conducted on April 18 and April 19 in the Safety Building.
Mr. Marx, who is now retired, was one of the lead investigators on the case in 1980. He was the first person Assistant Prosecutor Dean Mandros called to testify at the hearing.
Mr. Marx was asked about specific information obtained in the interviews in 1980, but was prevented from testifying about it because of objections made by Alan Konop, one of the attorneys representing Father Robinson.
Mr. Marx said the interviews were not recorded, but he took notes of what Father Robinson told him and a report likely was compiled and filed later that was based on notes he took.
When asked by Mr. Konop whether he completed paperwork condensing the interview into a report, Mr. Marx responded, "I cannot specifically recall, but I am sure that I did."
Mr. Marx said he did not know why the report would not be available from the police records section.
Judge Osowik also heard testimony on a motion filed by the defense attorneys to suppress statements that Father Robinson gave to Mr. Ross and Toledo police Detective Steve Forrester on April 23, 2004.
The investigators went to the defendant's home on Nebraska Avenue after scientific testing was conducted on a letter opener that was taken from his apartment at the hospital in 1980, and believed to have been used in the slaying of Sister Margaret Ann.
When showed old photographs of items at the crime scene, Mr. Ross said Father Robinson could not explain the similarities in blood patterns on an altar cloth and the letter opener or why the victim's wounds were consistent with being inflicted with it.
The investigators also asked Father Robinson about lying to Mr. Marx, and he told them he made up the confession because the detective was pressuring him.
Judge Osowik did not rule on the motions. He gave the attorneys one week to file additional motions.
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