TOLEDO, Ohio – Police did not do anything to stymie the investigation of a Roman Catholic priest accused of killing a nun inside a hospital chapel in 1980, a former deputy chief testified Monday.
The Rev. Gerald Robinson was not charged until two years ago after police reopened the case. Police say he was not arrested earlier because there was not enough evidence.
Under questioning by a defense attorney, retired Deputy Chief Ray Vetter, who is Catholic, said Robinson's standing in the Catholic community did not cause detectives to look the other way.
Defense attorney Alan Konop asked Vetter if he had done anything to protect Robinson.
"Absolutely not," Vetter said. Detectives 26 years ago had always considered Robinson, now 68, the prime suspect in the death of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, he said.
Robinson, the chaplain at Mercy Hospital, had worked closely with Sister Pahl, the chapel caretaker. He presided over the nun's funeral. Prosecutors have not offered a possible motive.
Two officers testified earlier in the trial that Vetter and Monsignor Jerome Schmidt showed up at a second police interview with Robinson and interrupted it. The interview ended after that and Robinson soon left, the officers said.
Vetter testified that he remembers going to the meeting that day with Schmidt but said he did not interrupt the meeting or end it.
Some community members also accused police and the Diocese of Toledo of not aggressively investigating the slaying of Sister Pahl, who had been choked and stabbed the day before Easter.
There were no fingerprints, no footprints, no witnesses to the killing. DNA technology was not available at the time.
Investigators who reopened the case in 2003 say they found bloodstains on an altar cloth placed over Pahl's chest that matched those from a letter opener belonging to Robinson. They said the stains were created when the letter opener was laid down.
Robinson could get life in prison if convicted of murder.