A former priest convicted of killing a nun died behind bars on Friday, just one day after a federal judge rejected his plea for compassionate release for his final days alive, a spokesman for Ohio’s governor said.
Retired Roman Catholic priest Gerald Robinson, 76, was serving a life sentence behind bars for the 1980 stabbing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl when he died early Friday, the spokesman for Governor John Kasich said in an email.
Robinson, who suffered a heart attack in May, was not expected to live for more than two months. He had asked to be released into the care of his brother and sister-in-law for his final days. Robinson had been in a Columbus prison hospice unit since the heart attack and wanted to die in Toledo.
But on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Gwin said the federal court had no jurisdiction over the request, as reported by Reuters.
Robinson’s attorney, Richard Kerger, said Thursday he was sorry the judge couldn’t find a way to grant the release but said he understands the decision and wouldn’t be making any further efforts to have Robinson released from prison.
Robinson was convicted in 2006 for killing Pahl, 71, in Toledo.
The crime went unsolved for years until authorities, using updated forensic techniques, were able to find new evidence and identified additional witnesses to the crime. The trial began in April 2006.
Under Ohio law, inmates serving life sentences for murder are not able to take early release for care to ease pain and suffering, leaving the only alternative a request to the governor for clemency.
Church historians have said this is the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.
Convicted Former Priest Dies Behind Bars 1 Day Rejected Plea