TOLEDO -- Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Osowik has ruled two search warrants in the Father Gerald Robinson murder case should be unsealed and made public. The warrants will not be unsealed until Monday morning at 9:00, which the judge says will give prosecutors enough time to determine if they will appeal the ruling.
The Toledo Blade requested the unsealing in court, saying it was unconstitutional to keep the warrants sealed because they are public record. Prosecutors argued the warrants are investigatory documents and not public record and should remain sealed until after trial.
Father Robinson is charged with murdering Sister Margaret Ann Paul in the Mercy Hospital Chapel in 1980. The search warrants will reveal evidence found at Robinson's home and at the Toledo Catholic Diocese offices.
Father Robinson's trial is scheduled to begin October 17th.
The crime happened almost 25 years ago. 71-year-old Sister Pahl was found strangled and stabbed at least 30 times on April 5th, 1980, the day before Easter. Records from the time show her body was left on the altar in the chapel in Mercy Hospital, and Toledo Police say she was probably killed during some sort of ritual.
Pahl was buried a short time later, with Father Robinson officiating her funeral mass.
A letter to the Diocese of Toledo in 2003 mentioned the possibility of rituals in the church, and mentioned Father Robinson's name. That's what led the Cold Case unit to once again start looking at the crime in the spring of 2004, ultimately leading to Father Robinson's arrest in April of 2004.
At the time of his arres, many local catholics wanted Father Robinson to have his day in court. Some said the priest's arrest on murder charges shows how anyone can fall into the trap of sin, but that didn't cause their faith to waiver. "It doesn't shake my faith at all. I believe in the tenents of the church. I don't believe in individual persons. It doesn't affect my Catholic beliefs," said one worshipper in April 2004. "Eveybody in the church is human including priests. I hope justice is carried out," said another.
Bill Spak was shocked when he talked with a News 11 reporter in April of 2004. Spak knew Father Robinson from when he was an altar boy at Ladyfield. Robinson even ministered at Spak's first communion. "From my perspective as a little boy, he was very freindly very nice," said Spak in 2004.
Twenty years later, Bill is father himself. Looking back, he says he never saw anything suspicous involving Father Robinson. "It shocked me looking back now at that time period.. When I was in contact with him was the same time that this happened supposedly," said Spak.
Robinson's arrest brought back devasting memoriers for some workers and sisters at Mercy Health Partners who relived the pain in April of 2004. "Once again we are brough forth with the loss," said Dorothy Thum when she talked with a News 11 reporter in 2004. "That saddened us 24 years ago... the loss of a woman who was a person service to the community and helping others."
Father Robinson was ordained in 1964 at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral. He served in many churches since then, including Christ the King, Saint Anthony's and Saint Adalbert.