Saturday, May 8, 2004

Toledo priest denies murdering nun in 1980

By John Seewer
The Associated Press

TOLEDO - A priest accused of the ritualistic slaying of a nun 24 years ago pleaded innocent Friday to an aggravated murder charge.

The Rev. Gerald Robinson stood during the five-minute arraignment in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, resting his hands on a chair in front of him. He is charged with strangling and stabbing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl over Easter weekend in 1980.

Robinson spoke just once, to confirm that he would give up his right to appear at the pretrial hearing, which Judge Patrick Foley set for May 24. His sister-in-law was among those attending the hearing.

"He's holding up well, but I don't want to talk about anything personal," Robinson's attorney, Alan Konop, said after the hearing.

Robinson was released from jail last week after supporters put together four pieces of property to post a $400,000 property bond to cover his $200,000 bail.

If convicted, he faces life in prison. The death penalty was not in effect in Ohio at the time of the killing.

Pahl's body was discovered with about 30 stab wounds in a chapel at Mercy Hospital, covered by an altar cloth.

Robinson was arrested April 23 after investigators analyzed blood patterns and concluded the murder weapon was "in the control of the suspect," police have said.

They won't say what the murder weapon was or who owned it.

Robinson was always a suspect in Pahl's death, police said.

Investigators reopened the murder case in December after the county prosecutor's office received a letter, prosecutors said. They would not say who sent the letter or what it said.

Robinson remained free on bond after he was released from jail.

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