TOLEDO (AP) -- Famed forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee, testified Thursday at the trial of a priest who's accused of murdering Sister Margaret Ann Pahl on Holy Saturday in 1980. The nun was choked and stabbed 31 times. Two years ago police charged Robinson with murder. Authorities have not disclosed a motive.
Dr. Lee has worked on several high-profile cases over the years, and testified at the murder trial of O.J. Simpson and the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith. Lee also worked on the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, and has been involved in more than 6,000 investigations. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have relied on his expertise.
Lee told jurors that a bloody stain on an altar cloth might link a nun's murder with the priest. Sister Margaret Ann's body was found on the floor of the sacristy of a hospital chapel, along with the bloody altar cloth that Lee examined. Lee said the stain on the altar cloth had similar characteristics to that of a medallion on Father Robinson's letter opener.
Prosecutors say Father Robinson used that letter opener to kill Sister Margaret Ann in the sacristy of a Mercy Hospital chapel. Nearly two weeks after the murder, police found the letter opener in 1980 in the drawer of a desk in Robinson's living quarters at the hospital.
Dr. Lee said that when he examined other stains on the dress Sister Margaret Ann wore, he found inconsistencies between them and the alleged murder weapon.
A dime-sized medallion on the letter opener shows an image of the U.S. Capitol. Dr. Lee pointed at an enlarged photo of a blood stain, drawing the jury's attention to what he said looked like the dome outline of the Capitol. "The size is similar, the shape is similar, the diameter is similar," he said. However, Dr. Lee would not call the stain and the medallion an exact match. "I can only say it is similar," he said.
Paulette Sutton, a nationally-known expert in blood stains, also testified Wednesday that the faint stain showed what looked like the Capitol.
The medallion from the letter opener showed no DNA evidence, said Diane Gehres, a DNA examiner from the state crime lab.
DNA tests on the slain nun's fingernails and underwear were not able to link the priest to the crime scene, expert witnesses have testified. The tests produced trace amounts of DNA, some of which were too small to produce any results, they said.
Megan Shaffer, of ReliaGene Technologies in New Orleans, said she found blood on at least one of the nun's fingernails. She said there was enough DNA to determine that it came from a man other than Robinson. Shaffer said the DNA could have come from shaking hands or someone coughing.
Prosecutors said the trace of DNA was so small that tests showing it came from a man might have been wrong, or the sample could have been left by someone who moved her body after the crime.
Other tests on pieces of the altar cloth contained only Sister Margaret Ann's DNA, Gehres said. Father Robinson was Mercy Hospital's Roman Catholic chaplain at the time of the murder. He worked closely with Sister Margaret Ann, who was the chapel caretaker, and presided over her funeral.
Father Robinson, 68, could get life in prison if convicted of the murder.
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