Gerald Robinson, a Catholic priest convicted of brutally killing a nun in 1980, died in an Ohio prison Friday morning, a day after a federal judge denied his request to be released to live his last days with his family, his attorney said.
Attorney Richard Kerger said Robinson's sister-in-law informed him that Robinson had died at 4:15 a.m. at a prison hospital in Columbus.
Robinson suffered a massive heart attack at the end of May and was making a slow recovery, Kerger said. The two spoke by phone Thursday after Robinson's request for a compassionate release was denied.
"He was clearly losing it," Kerger said. "He just didn't seem to be able to follow my comments."
Robinson's request was denied because Ohio law does not allow for a convicted murderer to be released until he is eligible for parole. He still had two years to go until he was eligible.
Robinson was convicted in 2006 after investigators used new forensic technology to link him to the cold-case murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980. She had been stabbed repeatedly in the chapel of the Toledo hospital where they both worked.
Until his heart attack, Robinson had acclimated well to prison life, even becoming a sort of counselor for many of the other aging inmates, Kerger said.
"When we spoke a couple of weeks ago he said, 'You know, it may have been what God intended -- for me to be down here,' " Kerger said.
The lawyer said he had been working with Robinson's sister-in-law to try to get Robinson released so he could die in his hometown of Toledo.
"She has a strong faith and we are confident that he is in heaven and receiving the rewards he should," Kerger said.
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