A Toledo priest accused in the slaying of a nun nearly 25 years ago has a new judge and a new trial date.
Newly elected Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Osowik yesterday pushed back the trial of the Rev. Gerald Robinson to Oct. 17. It was set to begin Feb. 22.
Father Robinson, 66, who did not appear with his attorneys at the hearing, is charged with aggravated murder in the 1980 stabbing and strangulation death of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in the sacristy of a chapel in the former Mercy Hospital.
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Judge Patrick Foley was assigned to handle the case when the semiretired Roman Catholic priest was indicted in April. However, Judge Foley lost his seat in the November election to Gary Cook, a Lucas County prosecutor.
As Judge Foley’s successor, Judge Cook normally would have inherited the case. But because he was on the prosecution team that investigated the murder, it was assigned to Judge Osowik.
The hearing was delayed about 20 minutes while the priest’s attorneys, Jack Callahan, John Thebes, and Alan Konop, and assistant prosecutors J. Christopher Anderson and Dean Mandros huddled in a conference room with Judge Osowik.
Judge Osowik took office earlier this month. He was a Toledo Municipal Court judge since 1991.
The new trial date was needed, Judge Osowik said, so the priest’s defense team would have appropriate time to review and analyze information that prosecutors must provide them.
Judge Osowik said the information is of a “complex nature,” and there are still some remaining items to be shared.
Under Ohio law, prosecutors must disclose evidence investigators have collected in the case, including witness statements, police reports, coroner findings, photographs, and scientific and physical evidence.
Sister Margaret Ann, 71, was strangled and then stabbed up to 32 times April 5, 1980.
Father Robinson is free on a $400,000 property bond.
Judge Osowik also continued a gag order that prevents those involved in the case from discussing it outside the courtroom.
Mr. Mandros said he could not comment on the matters discussed in the hearing because of the gag order, but he said the prosecution is treating the new trial date as a firm one. “We will be ready to go to trial,” he said.