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Published: Thursday, 4/20/2006

Jury selection complete in Father Robinson trial


After four days of extensive interviews, a jury of 12 people and four alternates was selected this afternoon for the murder trial of the Rev. Gerald Robinson, accused of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in April, 1980.

The panel consists of 10 women and six men.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow morning in what is believed to be the first U.S. trial of a Roman Catholic priest accused of killing a Roman Catholic nun.

The jury selection was an intense process that began with three days of individual interviews of prospective jurors, followed by group selection this morning.

In the first phase, 59 jurors made the cut after they were quizzed about three main issues: whether serving on the jury for up to four weeks would cause financial hardship; if they have already formed opinions about Father Robinson s guilt or innocence based on news reports before the trial, and whether their views on religion would interfere with their judgment in this case.

Rev. Gerald Robinson, left, and attorneys John Thebes and Nicole Khoury listen today. Rev. Gerald Robinson, left, and attorneys John Thebes and Nicole Khoury listen today.

Four people were dismissed in the first three days because of strong feelings for or against the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy. Others were excused because of problems with their jobs or child-care, and some for health concerns.

Today, five prospective jurors were dismissed in the morning four for job issues and one for a family emergency after his father was hospitalized.

After the opening statements tomorrow, the jury is scheduled to be taken by bus to the crime scene at the former Mercy Hospital, now a college.

Sister Margaret Ann s body was found on April 5, 1980, in the sacristy next to the hospital chapel. She had been strangled, then stabbed up to 32 times. Her undergarments had been pulled down over an ankle, but investigators say that was a ruse by the killer to mislead police into thinking it was a sexual assault.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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