Guilty As Sin:
Nunslaying Priest Off to Prison
I should have eaten the body...
Jury Finds Ohio Priest Guilty of Killing Nun in 1980
from The Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio — A priest was convicted Thursday of stabbing a Roman Catholic nun to death as she prepared for Easter services at a hospital 26 years ago, a murder prosecutors say was steeped in religious ritual.
Prosecutors suggested that the Rev. Gerald Robinson had a strained relationship with the nun, a strict taskmaster, and that he reached a breaking point that day.
Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was stabbed 31 times through an altar cloth, with the punctures forming an upside down cross, and her killer then anointed her with a smudge of her blood on the forehead to humiliate her in death, prosecutors said.
Robinson, now 68, had worked closely with Sister Pahl at the Mercy Hospital chapel, where her body was discovered on April 5, 1980.
He had been early suspect, but he wasn't charged until two years ago. His attorneys argued that the nun's underwear and fingernails had traces of DNA that that wasn't from Robinson, and that there were no witnesses to place Robinson at the crime.
Robinson, who wore his priest's collar throughout the trial, had no visible reaction as the verdict was read.
Thomas Osowik immediately sentenced him to the mandatory term of 15 years to life in prison, and a courtroom deputy handcuffed the priest and lead him away.
The jury deliberated for six hours following nine days of testimony during which witnesses linked a sword-shaped letter opener found in Robinson's room with the nun's wounds and blood stains found on the altar cloth that covered her body.
In a videotaped interview with police just after he was arrested in April 2004, Robinson said he was stunned when he walked into the chapel and the hospital's other chaplain accused him of murder.
Jurors watched the tape during the trial and also saw how Robinson, left alone in a small room for a few minutes, fold his hands and began to whisper in a barely audible voice. He whispered the word "sister" and then prayed again with his head bowed, at one point saying, "Oh my Jesus."