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Court won’t free convicted priest to die at home

TOLEDO, Ohio — A federal court has denied a request from a dying Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of killing a nun in 1980 and hoped to spend his final days in his Ohio hometown.

In this Thursday, May 11, 2006 photo, in Toledo, Ohio, the Rev. Gerald Robinson, a Roman Catholic priest, listens as the verdict is read finding him guilty of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. In a motion filed in federal court Friday, June 20, 2014, Robinson was asking a federal judge in Ohio to let him spend his final days at a nursing home run by nuns. (AP Photo/Andy Morrison, Pool, File)

In this Thursday, May 11, 2006 photo, in Toledo, Ohio, the Rev. Gerald Robinson, a Roman Catholic priest, listens as the verdict is read finding him guilty of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. In a motion filed in federal court Friday, June 20, 2014, Robinson was asking a federal judge in Ohio to let him spend his final days at a nursing home run by nuns. (AP Photo/Andy Morrison, Pool, File)

The Rev. Gerald Robinson’s attorney previously told the court the priest has been in a Columbus prison hospice unit since the end of May after suffering a heart attack and wants to die in Toledo. They asked the court to release Robinson to the care of his brother and sister-in-law.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected the request Wednesday, concluding his court doesn’t have jurisdiction to grant such compassionate release. Gwin’s ruling said that Robinson isn’t eligible for such relief under applicable federal law.

A message seeking comment was left for Robinson’s attorney, Richard Kerger, who has indicated Robinson is expected to live for only a month or two more.

Ohio law does not allow a convicted murderer who is not yet eligible for parole to be released for care to ease pain and suffering. Gov. John Kasich’s office has said there is nothing it can do.

Robinson was convicted in 2006 of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl during Easter weekend at a Toledo hospital where they worked. He is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in prison and maintains his innocence.

Church historians have called it the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun. Robinson wasn’t arrested until 24 years after Pahl was found stabbed and strangled. Prosecutors blamed the murder on Robinson’s simmering anger over Pahl’s domineering ways and described their relationship as strained.

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