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Published: Wednesday, 6/4/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Imprisoned priest who killed nun is near death

Release sought by lawyer is prohibited by state law

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gerald Robinson, 76, a Toledo priest, was convicted in 2006 in the murder of  Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980. Gerald Robinson, 76, a Toledo priest, was convicted in 2006 in the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980.
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A Toledo attorney has asked Gov. John Kasich to allow a Toledo priest convicted of killing a Catholic nun to go home to die.

Kerger Kerger
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Gerald Robinson, 76, is terminally ill and has been moved to the hospice unit of Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, a hospital run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. He has a heart condition, his attorney, Rick Kerger, said.

Mr. Kerger, who planned to visit Robinson today “to say good-bye,” said he did not expect Mr. Kasich to release Robinson as Ohio law prohibits it.

“I’ve been trying to find a way to get him a compassionate release, but that’s not allowed for people who have been convicted of murder,” he said.

RELATED CONTENT: Letter from Robinson‘s attorney to Gov. Kasich

Robinson was found guilty in 2006 in Lucas County Common Pleas Court of murder for the 1980 slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in the sacristy of the former Mercy Hospital chapel. He was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years.

The governor’s spokesman, Rob Nichols, said Tuesday that Mr. Kasich had not yet received Mr. Kerger’s letter and had no comment.

Mr. Kerger conceded he was not sure that Robinson’s health would permit him to travel to Toledo to be with family. Robinson, he said, was taken to Franklin Medical Center in Columbus Friday from the Hocking unit of Southeastern Correctional Institution then transferred by helicopter to Ohio State University Medical Center, where physicians concluded he was “terminal.”

He is a patient at Franklin Medical Center, ODRC spokesman JoEllen Smith confirmed Tuesday.

The medical center has a unit “for inmates suffering from advanced terminal illness,” according to the ODRC Web site. Its CARE program — Creating a Responsive Environment for the Terminally Ill — is designed to provide end-of-life care that addresses “the medical, mental health, spiritual, and daily assistance needs” of the dying inmate with the goal of “providing the inmate the opportunity to die with dignity,” according to the ODRC Web site.

Mr. Kerger said Robinson requested and received the last rites, a sacramental anointing of the sick. As someone who believes Robinson is innocent, he said he fears time will run out for him.

Last month, after Robinson had lost all of his state appeals, Mr. Kerger filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court on behalf of Robinson seeking to overturn his conviction and release him from prison.

“The sad part is, obviously, if he dies, that ends all of the legal processes,” Mr. Kerger said. “But, for the Christian Catholic priest, he’s going home so he will be vindicated there, not here.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.


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