Local/State

Parole denied for convicted wife killer Rafael Robb

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A state panel has denied parole for convicted wife killer and ex-Ivy League professor Rafael Robb.

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, which originally approved Robb's parole on November 7th, announced its decision to rescind that ruling on Wednesday, five days before his scheduled release from prison.

In a notice addressed to Robb, the board said its final decision was based on the "receipt of new information."

"The reasons for the board's decision," the notice continued, "include the following: reports, evaluations and assessments/level of risk indicates your risk to the community; [and] the negative recommendation of the trial judge."

The notice said Robb may file a new application for parole no sooner than one year after the date of the board's last decision.

The decision to deny Robb parole came one day after the parole board said it would consider new information in the case. An agency spokesman, Leo Dunn, would not say Tuesday what new information would be considered because it is not considered public information.

Robb, now 62, has served six years in prison and became eligible for parole last year, when he reached his minimum sentence of five years. He was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for Ellen Robb's December 2006 slaying.

He killed his wife, then 49, as she wrapped presents in their kitchen in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Merion. At the time, he was a tenured economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

In its original Nov. 7 decision to grant him parole, parole board members cited Rafael Robb's positive institutional behavior, acceptance of responsibility for the offense and completion of "prescribed institutional programs." It also cited a recommendation from the Department of Corrections.

But in a letter to the parole board's chairman, the original trial judge, Paul Tressler, objected to the board's decision to parole Robb. In the letter, Tressler wrote that Rafael Robb showed himself during the investigation to be a "highly manipulative individual," and that such behavior continues today.

"Even more telling is his attempt to manipulate his grieving daughter into continuing her relationship with him by threatening to withhold financial support for her future," Tressler wrote. "I fear his prison conduct and your judgment about him not being a threat to the public is another example of his manipulation, this time of the parole board."

Tressler's letter was released by the office of Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery. The judge expressed similar concerns about Rafael Robb's behavior when he sentenced him in 2008. Robb's daughter is now 18.

At his sentencing, Robb said there was no justification for the killing and called it "a horrific misdeed" committed during the heat of an argument. Ellen Robb had been planning to end their 16-year marriage, and her husband feared he would see less of their daughter and possibly suffer financially if they divorced.

The stress of his wife's mental illness also had led Rafael Robb to snap, his defense lawyers said at the time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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pennsylvania, homicide, montgomery county, local/state
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