TOLEDO, Ohio — A federal court has denied a request from a dying Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of killing a nun in 1980 and hoped to spend his final days in his Ohio hometown.
The Rev. Gerald Robinson’s attorney previously told the court the priest has been in a Columbus prison hospice unit since the end of May after suffering a heart attack and wants to die in Toledo. They asked the court to release Robinson to the care of his brother and sister-in-law.
U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected the request Thursday, concluding his court doesn’t have jurisdiction to grant such compassionate release. Gwin’s ruling said that Robinson isn’t eligible for such relief under applicable federal law.
Robinson’s attorney, Richard Kerger, has indicated Robinson is expected to live for only a month or two more. He said Thursday he was sorry the judge couldn’t find a way to grant the release but said he understands the decision and won’t be making further efforts to have Robinson moved.
Ohio law does not allow a convicted murderer who is not yet eligible for parole to be released for care to ease pain and suffering. Gov. John Kasich’s office has said there is nothing it can do.
Robinson was convicted in 2006 of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl during Easter weekend at a Toledo hospital where they worked. He is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in prison and maintains his innocence.
Church historians have called it the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun. Robinson wasn’t arrested until 24 years after Pahl was found stabbed and strangled. Prosecutors blamed the murder on Robinson’s simmering anger over Pahl’s domineering ways and described their relationship as strained.