COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Catholicpriest convicted of killing anun inside a chapel a day before Easter 1980
died Friday at a Columbus prison hospice unit, a day after a federal judge refused his request to be
released to family care so he could die in his hometown of Toledo.
Attorney Richard Kerger said the Rev. GeraldRobinson’s sister-in-law told him thepriest died Friday
"I’m sure he’s in a better place," Kerger said.
Robinson, 76, had been serving a sentence of 15 years to life in what church historians have
characterized as the only documented case of a Catholicpriest killing anun.
He had been in a hospice unit since the end of May after suffering a heart attack. A federal judge on
Thursday refused to release him to relatives, concluding that the court didn’t have jurisdiction to
grant such compassionate release.
Robinson was arrested 24 years after thenun’s death and was found guilty in 2006 of stabbing and
strangling Sister Margaret Ann Pahl at a Toledo hospital where they both worked.
Robinson and Pahl had worked closely together at the hospital where he was a chaplain and she was
caretaker of the chapel. He presided at the funeral Mass for her.
The 71-year-oldnun was killed while she was preparing the chapel for Easter services in 1980. She was
choked and then stabbed 31 times.
Robinson emerged as a suspect when police found a sword-shaped letter opener in his desk drawer two weeks
after the killing. He also admitted lying to police, making up a story that someone else confessed to
themurder. Yet he was not charged and remained apriest. A year after the killing, he was transferred out
of the hospital.
Robinson developed a faithful following in his hometown of Toledo, where he delivered sermons and heard
confessions in Polish. He ministered to the sick and dying at nursing homes and hospitals after retiring
from three Roman Catholic parishes.
Police arrested him in 2004 after investigators reopened themurder case when a letter surfaced that
accusedRobinson and otherpriests of molestation. Police weren’t able to substantiate the allegations of
sexual abuse, but it led them back to thenun’s murder.
Investigators said blood stains on an altar cloth seemed to match the patterns of the letter opener found
inRobinson’s apartment. New technology not available in 1980 allowed them to connect the killing with
the letter opener.
Prosecutors saidRobinson tried to humiliate Pahl in her death, her stab wounds formed an upside down
cross and a smudge of blood on her forehead meant as a mock anointing.
They blamed themurder onRobinson’s simmering anger over Pahl’s domineering ways, saying their
relationship was strained and that Pahl was upset over the shortening of Good Friday services a day
before she was killed.
Robinson, who wore hispriest’s collar throughout his trial, maintained his innocence while losing several
attempts to overturn his conviction. His attorneys said DNA evidence didn’t linkRobinson to the crime.
A new defense team argued that a now-deceased serial killer could have been the one who stabbed and
strangled Pahl. Prosecutors dismissed the theory, saying investigators and even thepriest’s original
attorneys didn’t think there was a connection.
Robinson remained apriest after he was convicted, but he was barred from ministry. He told The Columbus
Dispatch in an interview three years after the trial that he was stunned by testimony linking him to
He also said other prisoners called him "Father" and would