Trial Date Set for Priest in Murdered Nun Case

TOLEDO -- The case of a Catholic priest accused of murdering a nun more than 20 years ago is scheduled to begin in less than a month. Father Gerald Robinson did not appear in court Monday, but his lawyers were there to hear Judge Thomas Osowik set the trial date for April 17th.

The judge also ruled late Monday afternoon on a motion filed by Father Robinson's lawyers, arguing that the priest was never read his Miranda rights when he was questioned at his home two years ago. They said statements made and evidence gathered at the time should be thrown out. But Judge Osowik denied the motion. He pointed out that Robinson was not in custody at the time of the interrogation.

Father Robinson was arrested on April 23, 2004, and accused of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl during Easter weekend in 1980. Her body was discovered in a chapel at Mercy Hospital, covered by an altar cloth. Investigators have described it as a "ritualistic" slaying. Robinson was always a suspect in Sister Pahl's death, but was never charged until 2004.

Robinson's attorneys say police videotaped the priest in 1980 and they want prosecutors to hand the tapes over. Prosecutors say a tape-recorded interview from 1980 was never done. The defense says charges against Robinson should be dismissed if they can prove evidence is missing or was destroyed.

Robinson has been free on bond since supporters raised the money needed to set him free.

Robinson was arrested after investigators analyzed blood patterns at the murder scene, and concluded the murder weapon was "in the control of the suspect," police have said. They believe the murder weapon was a dagger-shaped letter opener that belonged to the priest.

Police say a woman who alleges she had been physically and sexually abused as a child by several priests, including Robinson, spurred them to take another look at the nun's slaying. Investigators reopened the murder case in December 2003 after the county prosecutor's office received a letter. They would not say who sent the letter or what it said.

Count on News 11 to follow this case as it develops.

Posted by PJS