Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part 2

Robinson's Never-Ending Defense

According to media reports by WTOL, a Toledo based news station; at least 90 supporters stood by Robinson since his arrest and donated money to help his defense.  He had three lawyers on his defense team, all of whom seemed confident he would be found not guilty.  The trial, which was originally set to begin in February, was pushed back to October 17, 2005, so that Robinson's defense team would have appropriate time to review and analyze all of the prosecution's information. The court ordered a gag order on the media, so few new details regarding the prosecution's case were released to the media. That however did not stop former police officers, who are from speaking out, alleging that Robinson was never arrested back in the 1980s because the local diocese thwarted the investigation and put pressure on investigators to stall their work.

Since Robinson's arrest, several Toledo women have come forward and made claims of ritualistic abuse by clergy members. Their cases, as with Mary's initial reports, are still under investigation. However, it is interesting to note that the Toledo Catholic Diocese did settle 19 lawsuits in 2004, filed by 23 victims of clerical sexual abuse. According to diocesan officials, the victims received settlements totaling $1.19 million.


The Never-Ending Appeals Process

BY Cora Van Olson

Rev. Gerald Robinson
Rev. Gerald Robinson

Despite his legal positioning, Robinson was convicted of Sister Margaret Ann's murder in 2006, and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. He filed for direct appeal twice in 2008 with no success. In April 2012 Robinson filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief, which unlike a direct appeal, allows the court to consider evidence not presented at the trial.

Robinson's April 16 filing claims that the state withheld documents showing that Michigan serial killer Coral Eugene Watts was not in prison at the time of the murder as Robinson's legal team believed, and that his attorneys failed to adequately pursue Watts as a suspect. He further claims that the state withheld police reports that included witnesses' descriptions of an unidentified a young black man roaming the corridors around the time of the murder. Watts, who died in prison in 2007, would have been 27 in 1980.

As intriguing an idea as this may be, Coral Watts' life has been studied extensively. The fact that Watts was not in prison in April 1980 is information easily gleaned off the Internet, and is even stated in Crime Library's article on Watts. Robinson's petition omits the results of two DNA tests conducted by SNAP on behalf of the Ohio Innocence Project in 2009. The first compared Watts' DNA to "a minuscule amount of male chromosome found on the nun's fingernails," as reported by the Toledo Blade on August 31, 2009. The second test compared the unknown DNA to that of the late Rev. Jerome Swiatecki, a diocesan priest that served as the hospital's chaplain, a man Robinson claimed could have been the killer. Neither was a match.

Regarding the investigation of Watts in Ohio, Thomas Staff, an investigator for the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office told the Blade that a 1981 investigation ruled out Watts as a possible suspect in the murders of Sister Margaret Ann and several other women slain in the Toledo area. Staff added that there was no evidence that Watts had ever even been to Toledo. If he had, Sister Margaret Ann did not fit his victim type: Watts' victims were all in their 20s to their 40s, while she would have turned 72 the day after her murder.

The court has yet to issue a ruling.



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