Saturday, May 02, 2009

Robinson's request for new trial challenged

As reported in the Toledo Blade:

The Rev. Gerald Robinson's request for a new murder trial has so many "assertions that are patently false" that the court should view it "with extreme caution," prosecutors said in a motion filed Friday.

The 85-page motion, accompanied by about 800 pages of appendices, was filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in response to the Toledo Catholic priest's amended petition for postconviction relief.

In a separate filing, the Ohio Innocence Project this week joined Robinson's defense team, saying it would analyze DNA evidence in the case.

In the amended petition filed Jan. 16 by Robinson's attorney, John Donahue of Perrysburg, the priest's defense team made 225 assertions claiming that their client's constitutional rights were violated in the 2006 trial in which he was convicted of murdering a nun 26 years earlier.

Among the points made by Mr. Donahue was that Robinson's trial lawyers were ineffective, the state withheld important evidence, and that the jury was prejudiced by pretrial media coverage.

Dean Mandros, assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said Friday that the state went to great lengths in writing its response because "we weren't going to let [Mr. Donahue] get away with one single distortion" contained in the petition.

"I don't think any of his claims have any merit. The judge obviously will be the arbiter of that," he said.

In a separate motion filed this week, the Ohio Innocence Project, a nonprofit group specializing in DNA analysis, joined Robinson's defense team as co-counsel. The Cincinnati-based group said it believes "DNA evidence may become an important issue in this case" and said it will address only issues relating to DNA.

Mr. Mandros said he wel-comes further review of the DNA evidence and the state is confident there is no DNA data that would exonerate Robinson in the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.

The 71-year-old nun was strangled nearly to death and then stabbed 31 times in the sacristy of the former Mercy Hospital on April 5, 1980 - Holy Saturday. The crime went unsolved until Robinson was arrested by Lucas County cold-case detectives in 2004 and a jury found him guilty in May, 2006.

In Friday's motion, the state cited Robinson's "proven lies as to his alibi," including telling investigators that he never left his Mercy Hospital apartment until learning of Sister Margaret Ann's murder. But three witnesses testified during the trial that they saw Robinson near the chapel around the time of the murder - before he was told about the homicide.

"Lies told by any defendant are harmful in a trial. Lies are especially damning when told by a priest," the state said.

The Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals upheld Robinson's conviction in July, 2008, issuing an unusually detailed 95-page ruling, and the Ohio Supreme Court in December declined to hear the priest's appeal.

Mr. Donahue is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears about 1 percent of cases submitted to it, and filed the amended petition for post-conviction relief in what he called a "two-pronged attack" to get his client's conviction overturned.

Robinson, 71, who was suspended from ministry but remains a Catholic priest, is serving a 15-years-to-life sentence at Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville, Ohio. His first parole hearing is scheduled to be in March, 2021.

This article was written by David Yonke, so every article written by him on this trial should carry the following disclaimer: David Yonke wrote the book, "Sin, Shame and Secrets" and therefore has a vested interest in Father Robinson never being found innocent...He'd have to rewrite it...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ohio Supreme Court declines to hear Robinson's appeal in murder conviction

The Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Gerald Robinson, the Catholic priest convicted in 2006 of murdering a nun nearly 30 years ago.

In a brief notation released Wednesday, the high court listed the case under the heading, "Appeals not accepted for review." Justice Paul Pfeifer dissented with the decision and Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger recused herself. There was no explanation given by either justice for their decisions.

Robinson, now 70, was arrested in April, 2004, and convicted by a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury on May 11, 2006. The Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in July.

Defense attorneys John Donahue and Richard Kerger contended in their 122-page motion filed with the Ohio Supreme Court in August that Robinson's case raises substantial constitutional questions, mainly because of the time lapse between the nun's murder and the priest's arrest.

In their response filed in September, prosecutors said that Robinson "received a fair trial and justice was done" in Common Pleas Court and that the appellate court "properly and fairly" upheld the conviction in its July 11 decision.

Police who conducted the investigation in 1980 testified in the 2006 trial that within a few days of Sister Margaret Ann's murder, Robinson was their only suspect. But one high-ranking police official said there was not enough evidence to convict the priest, so no charges were filed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Conviction reaffirmed

As reported in the Toledo Blade, Toledo Catholic priest Gerald Robinson’s conviction reaffirmed:
The three-judge panel, in a 95-page ruling, meticulously reviewed and rejected a litany of claims made by Robinson’s attorneys, including ineffective defense counsel, a lack of DNA evidence, injecting Satanism into the trial as a possible motive for the murder, and the loss of evidence and key witnesses over the years.

You can read the 95 page ruling here directly from the Court of Appeals.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Attorneys file to overturn conviction...

This warranted an update to the site, Attorneys file to free priest charged with nun's murder. It's being suggested that evidence was withheld and that there could be another suspect for the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. The suggested killer by the new defense team is the now deceased Rev. Jerome Swiatecki.

Some of this was speculated by trial watchers during the initial trial, especially related to this information:
One such deceased witness was Dr. Renate Fazekas, former Lucas County forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Sister Margaret Ann on April 5, 1980, and said the nun likely had been strangled by a man with "large hands."

During the trial, Father Swiatecki was described as having been about 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, while Robinson was described as 5 feet, 7 inches and 160 pounds in 1980.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The case will be appealed...

Linked article above, also worth pointing out as was earlier by one commenter who wrote as to what Father Robinson said that the Prosecution did not enhance, that he heard on Court Tv is written in this article:

Mr. Thebes said that what Robinson said was that Sister Margaret Ann knew the priest “didn’t do this. Sister won’t you please come through for me?”

The article contains alot more detail so perhaps this is far from being over.

And CNN takes the inaudible comments and gets them wrong.

A quick thank you...

Since the trial is now over, after the next few days of coverage there will probably not be any new posts/discussion. Yet I will leave the blog up for anyone who later wants to read the information that has been accumulated here.

I want to thank all of you who have commented, who have emailed me and have stopped by to visit this blog.

I'd also like to thank Mike who has another excellent local blog, History Mike's Musing for promoting what I was trying to do here as well as 13ABC for linking my blog as a information resource and also thank Merle Dech for reading here as well as commenting. As he stated in the comments he will be featured on Fox 36 at both 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

If there is an appeal and it ends up being successful? Then we will of course have more to talk about in the future. I know many of you have waited to discuss your feelings/speculation until the trial was over and you are most welcome to do so.

I know this is not the verdict many of you hoped for as well as I also know this is the verdict many others did want. I also thank all of you for discussing these differences of opinion in an admirable manner. I still hope we do eventually get all of the answers that many of us still want to know. For those of you who do pray, I'd suggest not just praying for Father Robinson but that it be done for our whole community, that not only will there be truth but healing.

Father Robinson found guilty

The jury did not take much time in deliberating - however that is their verdict.

Cheering and applause broke out when this was announced outside of the courtroom.


Earlier than expected, but that is the verdict.

Jury Watch begins

I don't think anyone expected the Jury to make a decision last night, we also knew that Judge Thomas Osowik had previously made it clear that he does not allow juries to go past 8:00 p.m. while in deliberation.

So far we know the Jury has requested the witness list and a DVD player, it is assumed so that they can watch Father Robinson's two hour interrogation session with Toledo police. The Jury has been reported as consisting of 7 women and 4 men.

David Yonke has his impressions of yesterday from the Toledo Blade.

13ABC has their report on yesterday; WTOL has theirs; NBC24 has a short report and Fox 36 also has a brief summary. Merle was on last night at ten but that video is not yet on their website.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Closing Arguments...

Court is on a short recess, I know there will be several links that will be out there that will have these closing arguments on video so they can be either viewed if you missed them or reviewed.

I've been asked via email and in older comments if there is an email alert system for a jury verdict.

Not that I am aware of, however WTOL has a notification system for breaking news. As does 13ABC. NBC24 also has a breaking news email/desktop service.

UPDATE: The case is now in the hands of the jury and according to what the Judge said yesterday, he will only allow them to deliberate until 8:00 p.m. each day. Most legal experts are predicting the jury will deliberate several days.

Closing arguments today

Several of the local media is streaming this live thru their websites. I'll still suggest 13ABC or Court Tv Extra, they've both so far provided the best video coverage of this trial.

Thank you to 13ABC for linking my blog, I didn't see that until this morning.

As reported there could be possibly one rebuttal witness then closing arguments.

I'll open up a thread after closing arguments to discuss those and how you think the trial went.

So far the "unoffical" Lisa Renee poll of people here, thru emails and discussion off the blog, the majority of people are predicting a hung jury as the outcome.

David Yonke's article from this morning's Blade, he was also on NBC24 last evening.

WTOL Also plans to carry the live stream of closing arguments as stated above.

Fox 36 has some new video since my last visit which includes a legal analysis by a favorite of the readers of this blog, Merle Dech.

Court TV also has a written article on Monday's testimony.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday's notes...

Some notes I made in watching this morning's testimony:

It appears the Prosecution is trying to imply that the former Chief Detective on the case helped to protect Father Robinson from being charged because of his being Catholic and his relationship with the diocese at the time of the murder.

A blonde pubic hair found at the crime scene which I do not believe the prosecution mentioned before was discussed. Testing showed that Father Robinson could not be the person that the public hair came from.

More on the fingernail clippings, the Prosecution has suggested the DNA evidence could have come from anyone who had contact with Sister on the day of the murder. Yet that does and did raise the possibility that it was also from the murderer. Either way, the testing shows it was from a male and the items tested that had a large enough sample ruled out Father Robinson or any biological relatives of him.

Valid questions to remain as to how the fingernail clippings were collected, it's important to remember at the time of the murder DNA was not available. Considering though when the tests were ordered later, the decision to use all of the nails rather than trying to do individual testing and consuming all of the sample does raise some interesting questions.

As an additional update: WTOL just reported that Dr. Kathy Reichs is expected to testify this afternoon. Court resumes at 1:00 p.m.

Second update 1:55 p.m.:

Dr. Reichs testified, notes from that testimony:

Dr. Reich's testified that there is photographic evidence that the penetration wound in the jaw wound was changed possibly after the letter opener was put in which to her suggests that it was not a fit prior. She showed the jury blown up photos of before the letter opener was inserted and after the letter opener was inserted.

There is also some question as to differences in how that particular wound was created. This stems from written reports from the initial time of the murder versus the experts called to testify for the prosecution.

It appears the main focus of having her present is to point out that this evidence was potentially compromised. The prosecution focused on why she did not physically examine the mandible. She stated under testimony and under cross that after the letter opener and the casting had been done that there would have been no way for her to determine details on the original "defect" (bone trauma/wound).

Third update; 3:26:

13ABC is reporting:

The defense has rested in the Robinson case. There will not be any testimony tomorrow. Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.

However, what I heard the Judge say was there could be possibly one more witness on Wednesday then closing statements.

NBC24 has their report on today's testimony.

WTOL has theirs.

David Yonke of the Toledo Blade provides his report on today.

Fox 36 did not have an update yet, will add the link to them later.