Ohio Priest Appeals Initial Conviction

May 20, 2011

A Roman Catholic Priest who was convicted for killing a nun in 2006 returned to court on Friday with newly discovered police reports that could lead to an appeal.

Rev. Gerald Robinson, 73, was found guilty five years ago in the same courthouse he found himself in today, but this time he came armed with new evidence that he hopes will lead to a second trial.

Robinson's defense attorneys told a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge that police reports show that witnesses who were at the scene of the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl recalled a mysterious man. The attorneys believe this information that was not shared with them during the trial in 2006 could have helped prove their clients innocence.

"Even small errors are significant," defense lawyer Richard Kerger said Friday to the judge. He added that Robinson "had no violent assaults before or after" the choking and stabbing of the nun while she prepared a Easter service for a hospital chapel.

Robinson, who presided over Sister Pahl's funeral Mass, only emerged as a suspect after a sword-shaped letter opener that matched the wounds on the nun's body was found in his desk-drawer two weeks after the killing. Prosecutors used this evidence as part of what they described during the appeal hearing as "overwhelming evidence against the priest."

"It was his weapon and it was a unique weapon," Lucas County assistant prosectutor John Weglian told the court.

Prosecutors added that Robinson's original attorneys knew about the mysterious man before the initial trial and had their chance to raise the issue earlier, which they failed to do.

Robinson and his defense attorneys though are hoping that the police report can help reopen the case and grant Rev. Robinson an appeal.


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