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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

Forensic expert Henry Lee testifies in nun's murder


Famed forensic investigator Dr. Henry Lee today showed jurors in the murder trial of the Rev. Gerald Robinson how he used chemicals to enhance bloodstains on the altar cloth found at the scene of a nun s slaying 26 years ago.

Father Robinson is charged with murder in the strangulation and stabbing death of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl on Holy Saturday, 1980.

Dr. Lee, the Taiwan-born forensic expert best known for his testimony for the defense in the O.J. Simpson trial, testified for some 40 minutes. He pointed out similarities between bloody imprints on the altar cloth and the shape of a letter opener found in Father Robinson s apartment.

Diane Gehres Diane Gehres

As a previous forensic expert testified yesterday, Dr. Lee said he could detect certain elements of an image in a bloodstain that seemed to match a medallion on the letter opener.

But the forensic expert said he could not say the letter opener was used in the slaying, only that he could not exclude that it was used.

At one point, Dr. Lee jokingly told prosecutors that he couldn t remember which Toledo detective first approached him about the investigation, saying that all Caucasians look alike.

He said he first came to Toledo in December, 2004, and inspected the sacristy of the Mercy Hospital chapel where the killing occurred. Dr. Lee said he also studied police photos and conducted a limited crime scene recreation.

Defense attorney John Thebes questions prosecution witness Diane Gehres. Defense attorney John Thebes questions prosecution witness Diane Gehres.

There were no signs of a struggle no furniture overturned, no items out of place and the blood on the victim s body showed no signs of dripping, which led him to conclude that the stab wounds were inflicted while Sister Margaret Ann was lying prone on the floor, he said.

Earlier today, DNA specialists said that material found in clippings from the nun s fingernails had a male chromosome and did not come from Father Robinson.

Prosecutors challenged the results by questioning whether the male DNA could have come from someone who sneezed or breathed on the nails any time over the last 26 years, and the experts said that was possible.

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

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