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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Father Gerald Robinson: Was He A Devil Priest or Innocent Man?

     In 1980, 72-year-old Sister Margaret Ann Pahl worked at Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio as the caretaker of the chapel. A strict taskmaster who didn't suffer fools, Sister Margaret worked closely with 42-year-old Father Gerald Robinson, one of the hospital's chaplains. Father Robinson was a popular priest in the heavily Catholic city of 300,000.

     On April 5, 1980, on Holy Saturday, someone found Sister Margaret's bloody body on the chapel floor. She had been choked to near death, then stabbed 31 times in the chest, neck, and face. Some of the stab wounds in her chest formed the pattern of an upside down cross. The killer had also anointed her forehead with a smudge of her own blood. With her habit pulled up to her chest, and her undergarments pulled down around her ankles, the victim had been posed in a position of humiliation. While not raped, the killer had penetrated her with a cross.

     Although detectives on the case immediately suspected Father Robinson of this ritualistic murder, he presided over Sister Margaret's funeral Mass four days after her homicide. The principal piece of crime scene evidence involved a blood stain on the altar cloth consistent with the form of a sword-shaped letter opener in Father Robinson's apartment. The stain bore the vague print of the letter opener's dime-sized medallion bearing the image of the U.S. capitol. However, because the chief detective on the case was a Catholic, and didn't want to scandalize the church, Father Robinson was not arrested. The investigation floundered, and without a suspect, died on the vine.

     In December 2003, a Lucas County cold-case investigative team re-opened the 1980 murder. Father Robinson, over the past 23 years, had served in three Toledo Diocese parishes. The 65-year-old priest, in 2003, was administering to the sick and dying in several area Catholic homes and hospitals. The case came back to life after a woman wrote a letter to the police claiming that Father Robinson had sexually abused her as a child, molestation that involved Satanic ritualistic behavior that involved human sacrifice. (I don't know if this complainant passed a polygraph test, or made the accusation after some psychologist coaxed the memory out of her. After the Satanic hysteria in the McMartin preschool debacle, and the horrible injustice in the Memphis three case, I'm suspicious of this kind of allegation. Human sacrifice? What did that refer to?)

     Following the exhumation of Sister Margaret's body, a forensic pathologist noted that a stab wound in the victim's jaw could have been made by the letter opener found in Father Robinson's apartment. A DNA analysis of the victim's fingernail scrapings, and underwear, excluded the priest. Nevertheless, in April 2006, the police went to Father Robinson's home and arrested him. From the Lucas County Jail where he was held without bail, the priest denied killing Sister Margaret.

     While there was barely enough evidence to legally justify Father Robinson's arrest--no motive, no confession, no eyewitness, and no physical evidence directly linking him to the corpse--the priest went on trial for murder on April 24, 2006. The prosecutor showed the jury a videotape of the defendant's 2004 police interrogation. Father Robinson told his questioners that he had been stunned when one of the other hospital chaplains accused him of murdering Sister Margaret. When left alone for a few minutes in the interrogation room, the priest folded his hands and began to whisper the word "sister," then bowed his head in prayer. At one point he said, "Oh my Jesus." (I don't know exactly how the prosecution interpreted this as incriminating evidence.)

     A prosecution forensic scientist testified that the letter opener "could not be ruled out" as the murder weapon. (The prosecutor, in his closing remarks, told the jury that the letter opener fit one of the victim's stab wounds "like a key in a lock." Instruments used in stabbings cannot be scientifically linked to their wounds this way. In my view, that statement alone should have been adequate grounds for a reversal on appeal.) The forensic scientist also testified that the altar cloth bloodstains were "consistent with" the general shape of the letter opener. On cross-examination, this witness conceded that a pair of missing scissors could have left the blood stain on the altar cloth.

     On May 11, 2006, the jury, after 9 days of testimony, and 6 hours of deliberation, found Father Robinson guilty. The 70-year-old priest became the second priest in U.S. history to be convicted of criminal homicide. (The first was a priest named Hans Schmidt.) The judge sentenced Robinson to 15 years to life. Incarcerated at the Hocking Correctional Facility in southern Ohio, the priest will be first eligible for parole in 2016.

     Two months after the murder trial, Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. In December 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case. About a year later, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain the appeal as well.

     While it seemed that Gerald Robinson had run out of legal remedies, his legal team, in 2010, petitioned the state appeals court for post-conviction relief on the grounds that Sister Margaret may have been murdered by a 27-year-old confessed serial killer named Coral Eugene Watts. Watts, a black man, had stabbed 12 women to death in Texas, and at least one woman in Michigan. Police suspected him of killing another 80 victims. Watts had left many of the women with their blouses pulled up to their necks. He had not sexually molested any of his victims. They had all been posed in humiliating positions.

     On April 11, 2011, the Ohio appeals court denied the Robinson petition. According to the appellate judges, Father Robinson's attorneys, at the time of his 2006 trial, knew of Watts as a possible suspect in Sister Margaret's murder, but chose not to pursue this as a defense strategy. Moreover, there were dissimilarities between the serial killer's modus operandi and Sister Margaret's homicide. For one thing, Coral Eugene Watts had typically stalked young women before he killed them outdoors.

     A year later, the Robinson defense team again petitioned the state court of appeals to toss out the 2006 murder conviction. This time the priest's lawyers accused the prosecution of withholding key documents in the case. Regarding the issue of serial killer Watts, Robinson's trial attorneys didn't pursue that line of defense in 2006 because they mistakingly thought he was serving time when Sister Margaret was murdered. As it turned out, on April 5, 1980, Watts was living in southern Michigan, just 40 miles from Toledo. As for modus operandi, the priest's attorneys found Watts' killings and the death of the nun "eerily similar." (Coral Eugene Watts died in 2007 of prostate cancer. He was 53 and serving time in a Michigan prison.)

     Father Gerald Robinson's latest appeal was pending before the Ohio court. While the priest had many supporters who believed in his innocence following his 2006 conviction, it's not clear how many people were still with him and closely following his bid to clear his name and get out of prison. (I don't know who murdered Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in the hospital chapel back in 1980, but from what I know of the case against Gerald Robinson, I don't think the prosecution's evidence supported his conviction.)

     In June 2014, United States District Court Judge James Guin denied a request for the release of Father Robinson. The priest had been ill and, according to reports, didn't have long to live. The judge said he didn't have the jurisdictional authority to grant the motion.

     Father Robinson had a heart attack on Memorial Day 2014 and died on July 4. He passed away in the prison hospital after being told he had 30 to 60 days to live. He was 76,

     

45 comments:

  1. Father Jerry should have been found not guilty. How could an honest jury following the law convict a Catholic Priest with the only piece of questionable evidence is that his letter opener fit the hole stab wound. I doubt that it really did and the expert for the state that stated this cared only about convicting an innocent man. Did the defense have their own expert to refute the medical examiners questionable testimony.

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    1. Exactly thats my ooint. Why not consider the DNA samples? Why not question the other priest further? Why not match the letter opener with the wholes found on the piece of cloth covering the remains of the sister?

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    2. This is injustice. I am shocked that something like this could really happen in America??? of all the places. Then it would really not be surprising if in our third world countries over 100% of convicts are innocent!!!

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    3. Why do you think he lied to the detectives regarding hearing the confession of the nun's killer?. He admitted that he made up that story.

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    4. If the evidence against him was that thin, then Father Robinson was likely a scapegoat. Starting in 2002, with a Boston Globe series that published hundreds of news reports, priests were coming under fire. There were stories about pedophile priests who got away with it, because the church relocated them to other countries - where they were, again, put in positions that put them in contact with children! During this period, America's perception of priests changed. 2006 was not a good year to be a priest on trial. He was guilty until proven innocent...and his defense team was not able to do that, beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'd like to think that we've grown since 2006, but I suspect that if his trial was held today, with the same evidence, Father Robinson would still lose.

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  2. I totally agree with you on this issue. The prosecution in my opinion failed to present proper solid evidence. There is too much reasonable doubt in this case. With the DNA evidence especially. You would think there would be some of the priests DNA somewhere. Did anyone ever compare the DNA to WATTS? This should be done. If you weigh the DNA versus the letter opener I believe the DNA out shines the opener by far. The letter opener research is not an exact science to convict a man on. This case should be thrown out, it is too weak in my opinion and a great injustice to man.

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  3. Even if the prosecution can PROOVE ( which they cannot) that the letter opener was indeed the murder weapon, they cannot place it in father Robinsons hand. This case is a complete injustice! The evidence is utterly laughable and I cannot believe that he was not only convicted in the original 2006 case but that all appeal attempts have been unsuccessful.
    Any case in which there is unsubstantiated DNA needs further investigation. Please keep this post updated as I cannot seem to get factual information online and I live in Australia.
    I hope that this grave injustice is exposed and rectified as soon as possible.

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  4. I feel that a huge injustice was done in this case. The jury disregaurded key evidence and anything they didn't want to hear. There was a definite bias because of other things happening around the nation at the same time. I'm appaled at the clear lack of respect and decency. The DNA alone should have told every single person in that courtroom that this man was not guilty. I feel so sorry for Father Richardson and his family that they have had to endure this great miscarrige of justice and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. I hope somone with a brain goes back over everything properly and overturns this horrific conviction.

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  5. once the corrupt media set the narrative,group think took over and a smoke and mirror show was hatched,how does a stabbing go from rage to calculating ie the up side down cross,simply mind boggling to me,i sure would like to communicate with the father i think he knows the killer and doesn,t realize it.

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  6. I just saw a talk given by a Priest who was called into the case by the detectives. Supposedly a Satanic symbol was written in her own blood on her forehead. Also the body was desecrated in such a way as a satanic ritualistic killing. If you are interested I could provide the link to the talk given by the Priest. I obviously cannot say what happened but Satanic worship is real. So is satanic ritualistic killing and sacrifice. Ask any homocide detective in any large city and I am pretty sure that they have witnessed the aftermath of these type of killings.

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  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2mpTQaof4&NR=1&feature=endscreen

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  8. this priest was also part of a satanic group calling themselves S A M. Other priests were part of this group. The catholic church had documents and knew of this. They kept it quiet for over 30 years. Even when a nun exposed the abuse. This case is about a guilty priest protected by the catholic church.

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    1. You are a fool, blinded by your hatred of Catholics, just as the jury was, and the so-called cold case detectives that started the whole mess!

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  9. I don't understand what the catholic church is all about. Obviously not the same beliefs as the church I attend. To this day they continue to cover up for priests who molest children etc. so why not a murder. Why?? I don't understand..........

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  10. I'm glad the jury found him guilty! Why else would he initially lie in the interview trying to blame it on someone else's 'confessional?' He's a priest! He is not allowed to ever reveal someone's confession nor should he lie (which he admitted when pressed on it)
    You failed to mention this in your blog about the wicked Gerald Robinson.
    He is the worse of the worse! He used the church to hide behind his true evil heart!

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  11. I am not a fan of the Catholic church but I am a fan of a fair trial. I believe the only reason Father Robinson was found guilty was because of scandals taking place at that time. The DNA evidence and the missing scissors were more than enough for the jury to find him Not Guilty. If that doesn't show reasonable doubt then nothing will. And, what the hell is wrong with the appellate court? They just want to make an example of him and I find that appalling and a horrible injustice! I will keep Father and his legal team in my prayers but most of all I will pray for the appellate Judges so that they will actually do their jobs right and follow the law.

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    1. Can you tell me why he lied to the investigators regarding hearing the confession of the killer? He admitted to making this story up? If he was innocent, why make the phony confession story? It just doesn't make any sense for an innocent man t cook up a false confession.

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  12. I agree that there was reasonable doubt that he was the killer. Father Robinson should have never been convicted. Who's covering what? His attorneys are doing an excellent job defending him, and if anyone is covering something it's those who keep him in jail. Of course they don't want to admit that they put an innocent person in jail. Shame on the judicial system for covering up their own destructive blunders.

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  13. all I can say is wow. lets ignore all the evidence and parrot some bs that it was just "satanic panic". those darn catholic priests are infallible. they would never molest children or cross dress as nuns(as this priest admittedly did), would never possess satanic reference materials in their homes(as this priest did). I hate to inform you folks but this crime was clearly ritualistic in nature so the theory that these crimes dont happen is already out the window. realize how ignorant you sound when you talk out of both sides of your mouth on the issue. this blog and anyone using the "satanic panic" or "false memory syndrome" are pathetic! please do some research on the group who brought us "false memory syndrome" and report back to us. thats right, convicted child molesters...just like many catholic priests and ultimately the complicit church that covers it up. thats a fact jack.

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  14. Looking at the murder case, where Fr Gerald John ROBINSON is accused of murdering Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, I have an opinion that there is a lot of defense evidence in favor of the innocent Catholic Priest, which the prosecutors pushed aside hence closed the case. A lot of such is happening in this world. I hope one day Justice will prevail in all such cases.

    My opinion is based on points below:

    The DNA results which obviously rules out Fr Gerald John ROBINSON as being the person behind the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. This has been ignored in the administration of justice to this case.

    The shape of the blood stains on the cloth that covered the remains of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl do not match that of the instrument found in Fr Gerard's room

    The learned justice system should have given time to cross examination of the DNA evidence than that of the foot-steps, which in my opinion do not have supporting defense. i.e hearing foot-steps is not enough to indicate that the person you have in mind is the one that had his foot-steps heard.

    The prosecution team was very quick to rule out foul play by Fr.Jerome Swiatecki, he too should have been considered as a suspect hence interrogated further about his whereabouts on that sad morning.

    The holes on the cloth should have been examined against both a pair of sizers and the instrument found in Fr Gerald's room, otherwise its very clear that the whole are made in a particular pattern possibly from a cissars

    Why didnt the prosecutors never bothered to find the missing sister margaret's ceasars? I find this very strange!

    May be the whole case needs re-trail taking advantage of the new technologies. i.e taking finger-prints on the cloth and also working on matching the DNA samples of the two priests involved and that of the sister that reported the incident.

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  15. A DNA analysis of the victim's fingernail scrapings, and underwear, excluded the priest. This guy should be let out of prison.

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  16. A DNA analysis of the victim's fingernail scrapings, and underwear, excluded the priest. This guy should be released from prison. It is ridiculous to convict him because he had a letter opener that could fit the wounds. I have a letter opener that could fit the wounds. I hope they don't come after me.

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  17. yes i too agree this is an inoccent man n its ever so sad that such an injustice ia being done to a true man of God. They should truely find the person that the DNA belongs to n put the right person in prison r just save r tax dollars n give him a lethal injection n make this world a better place without a person like that in it anynore but THEY NEED TO FIND THE CORRECT PERSON RESPONSIBLE N GIVE HIM DEATH THE SAME AS HE GAVE TO SUCH AN INNOCENT WONDERFUL WOMAN

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    1. Not one single person here who thinks he is innocent is mentioning the lie cooked up by the priest about hearing the real killer's confession. He lied and admitted that he made that story up. Would an innocent priest lie like that? If so, why?

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  18. I have a feeling he may have done it, but that is certainly not the threshold of evidence required for a first degree murder conviction. The negative atmosphere surrounding sex scandals within the Catholic Church may have contributed to Father Robinson's conviction. If anyone can be convicted on this flimsy evidence, then God help us all.

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  19. New book coming out. Don't know if it's any good...but FYI http://coldcasecameron.com/killers-timeline/1980-1989/

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  20. I met father Robinson a few days ago, there is no way he did it. You just need to look at him and will understand what I say. He is an innocent man in prison.

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  21. I live in Northwest Ohio and just received a breaking news alert that Father Robinson is being moved into hospice care. If he didn't do it, then I feel bad that he'll never have the chance to clear his name. If he killed Sr. Pahl, then he should be very, very afraid to die, as he'll surely be spending eternity in hell.

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  22. Thank you for the update. Please keep us posted.
    Jim Fisher

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  23. I too believe that he didn't do it. My oldest sister was a nurse at Mercy at the time of the killing. She said that many of the staff thought right away it was another priest (cannot think of his name) as most Mercy staff considered him "weird". Everyone love Fr. Jerry. Apparently, this other priest died many, many years ago. Fr. Jerry was also a friend of my brother-in-laws family. He spent many holidays as well as other social gatherings at their house and was thought highly of...kind, gentle and definitely a man of God. I guess we will never truly know what happened...

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  24. i do believed too that father gerald robinson is innocent based on the evidence presented.IF DNA is not a viable evidence on this case so whats the purpose of testing DNA then????or maybe just for thiscase

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  25. I have known Father Gerald Robinson for over 50 years. From the time he was a young boy he wanted to be a priest and started his studies after graduating from the 8th grade. He has always been a faithful servant of the Lord. He is a gentle caring man and had much respect for Sister. I have lost all faith in our judicial system after setting through this trial and watching the jury pay little attention to what was being presented to them such as pictures of the nun that they did not look at, they just passed from one to the other but none of them bothered to look at them. I believe this jury had him guilty before the trial started. There was no new evidence to try him for this horrible crime except now we had DNA testing which EXCLUDED FATHER RONINSON. So much for DNA in this case I do not think the jury knew what the word EXCLUDED meant. It was said several times and still they convicted this servant of the Loard

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    1. We totally agree with you. Anyone who has known him would also agree with you. He was always a kind, considerate and wonderful priest! God be with him always!

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  26. I met Robinson a couple of weeks ago I take care of him in the hospice unit in my opinion he is a kind gentle man. He never complains. He just minds his own business but something comes over me like a he is not suppose to be here type of feeling and I just learned recently why he was in prison so I was really interested in his case. After reading it I really feel he is innocent. Its just too many wrongs with the evidence. I pray for the lord to take this situation in his hands.

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    1. So glad Father Robinson has people like you taking care of him. You are correct in your description of him. Through all of this he never lost his faith. He was well respected at Hocking Correctional by the other inmates and staff. He made many friends who now miss him. Thank you for taking care of him, wish they would let him go home.

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    2. Thank you so much for taking such good care of dear Fr. Robinson. So glad he was sent an angel like you in his final days. We hope they grant his request and let him be taken care of the Little Sisters of the Poor in his final days. The Toledo Blade should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for trying and convicting him in their newspaper on an almost daily basis before his trial even began! Justice truly was blind in this case! God Bless you Fr. Robinson!

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  27. Prayers for Father Robinson! He was my parish priest when I was growing up at St. Adalbert. He also presided over many of our family weddings and funerals. I feel the greatest of all injustices has been done here. He was convicted on no evidence whatsoever. The DNA under Sister's nails weren't his. However, the Toledo Blade tried and convicted him with their biased stories long before the trial even began. We knew Fr. Robinson has a kind, sweet and gentle priest. May God be with him in his final days! Justice was totally blind in this case.....may God forgive all of you who unjustly prosecuted this wonderful priest!

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  28. I'd like to know the makeup of the jury. My guess is some folks with deep seated anti-Catholic/Priest energy.

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  29. Fr Robinson died on July 4, 2014.

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  30. Shame. this is sad. May his soul rest in peace at last. I pray that the jury that sentenced him so unfairly, will re look at their unfortunate decision.

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  31. Father Gerald Robinson's funeral mass took place on Friday July 11,2014. The church was filled with friends, relatives and many Priest and Nuns. He is at rest in the arms of the Lord and will be deeply missed by many. I hope that one day we can prove him innocent of this horrible crime. Rest in peace and know you are loved by many.

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  32. What a horribly sad story. Ohio-a complete abuse of our judicial system. That is sad.

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  33. How sad this story is... Father Robinson was and is an innocent man who died in prison for something he didn't do..
    Satan ritual sexual play... REALLY ?

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  34. yes mark spencer, I too believe there is a very bad smelling rat in this case. a very cold case, only to be reinvestigated upteen years later and just like that they pull a priest out of the hat with the most flimsiest evidence known to man. In all my years ive never seen a case where the justice dept or whoever is using the 'PRIEST' to cover up for someone else! usually its the other way around. I honestly don't feel that they just needed to close this case (or even cared] unless it was politically motivated. its not like the sisters family was pressuring law inforcement to continue investigating the case. I think the father took the fall for a much bigger power than we could ever imagine. and that all parties involved were in on it including judge, jury and prosecutors. always stunk to me and always will.

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