A Roman Catholic priest sent to prison nearly seven years ago for killing a nun inside a hospital chapel has lost another bid for a new trial.
A state appeals court rejected the Rev. Gerald Robinson’s request to throw out his conviction in the strangling and stabbing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl during Easter weekend in 1980.
Robinson, who presided at the nun’s funeral, emerged as a suspect when police found what they later called the murder weapon, a sword-shaped letter opener, in his desk drawer two weeks after the killing at the hospital where both worked. But he wasn’t charged until 24 years later after investigators reopened the case.
He was convicted in 2006 and is now serving a sentence of 15 years to life. According to church historians, it’s the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.
Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo last week rejected the appeal by Robinson’s attorney who said that police reports discovered after the priest’s conviction could have changed the outcome. The attorney argued that a now-deceased serial killer could have been the one who killed the nun.
Police reports showed that six people saw a mysterious black man near the hospital chapel where Pahl was killed, Robinson’s attorney Richard Kerger said. Descriptions of the man were similar to that of a confessed serial killer who lived in nearby Michigan, he said.