TOLEDO, Ohio -- Punctures in an altar cloth placed over the body of a nun who had been strangled and stabbed were consistent with a letter opener found in the room of a priest, a police investigator testified yesterday.
The Rev. Gerald Robinson, who worked closely with Sister Margaret Ann Pahl and presided over her funeral, is charged with killing her in 1980 in the chapel of a hospital where he was chaplain. Pahl was stabbed 31 times, including nine wounds in the shape of an upside-down cross, authorities said.
Police Detective Terry Cousino described Robinson's letter opener as having a cross section in the shape of a kite with an oblong pointed end.
''It's a pretty unusual blade," Cousino said in the second day of testimony in Robinson's trial.
Prosecutors have said previously that some of the wounds exactly match the blade of Robinson's letter opener. The defense has suggested the wounds could have been caused by something else, and a nun who testified Monday said a pair of scissors were missing after the assault.
Detectives began looking closely at Robinson, now 68, after two hospital workers said they heard footsteps in a hallway near his room around the time the nun was killed. Investigators have said he was the only one who lived on that floor.
Josh Franks, a retired criminologist, testified that he removed a medallion from the letter opener and said a test indicated the possible presence of blood. No DNA genetic tests were available at that time, and the speck was too small to do a more conclusive test, Franks testified.
Robinson, free on bail, could get life in prison if convicted of murder. He cannot get the death penalty because it was not in effect at the time of the slaying.