Ex-Penn prof who killed wife will remain in prison

Rafael Robb: Staying put
Rafael Robb: Staying put
Posted: January 24, 2013

WHEN FORMER University of Pennsylvania economics professor Rafael Robb pleaded guilty in 2007 to killing his wife, he told a judge: "I just lost it."

On Wednesday, Robb lost it again, but this time "it" was his chance at freedom: The state Board of Probation and Parole changed its mind and revoked Robb's scheduled parole after a tough fight by his victim's family, along with Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Montco state Rep. Mike Vereb.

"This is the captain speaking, and your flight to freedom has been canceled," Vereb said at a news conference Wednesday. "We have never been happier."

Robb, who beat his wife, Ellen Gregory Robb, to death with an exercise bar at their Upper Merion home in December 2006 as she wrapped Christmas presents, was slated to be paroled Jan. 28, after serving six years of his five to 10-year sentence for pleading guilty to manslaughter.

His scheduled release did not sit well with Gary Gregory, Ellen Robb's brother, who called Ferman for help.

"We talked about whether or not it was worth the effort to do something else," Ferman said. "I can remember saying to Gary, 'Do you think it's something that you need to do for your sister and your family? Then I'm all in.' "

Ferman called the board's reversal was "an extraordinary turn of events."

Ferman, Gregory and Vereb fought to have Gregory address the parole board chairman directly, which he did Tuesday. Victim statements usually are received in writing.

"There's a big difference between someone writing a letter ... and going face-to-face to say, 'Here's my thoughts, here's my reasons, here's why this inmate needs to stay incarcerated,' " Gregory said.

Robb, 62, will be up for parole again in 2014, and Gregory said he'll oppose that as well.

"We will be back at this fight each and every time we need to, to make sure that justice is served to the fullest," he said.

Vereb said he plans to introduce legislation to ensure that victims are able to make a presentation to the parole board in person, not just in writing.

"We want to make sure the victims have the same right these criminal thugs have," Vereb said.

Ferman agreed.

"Parole decisions cannot be mechanical," she said.

In honor of his sister, Gregory has founded Every Great Reason, an organization that empowers victims of domestic violence.

On Twitter: @FarFarrAway

Blog: PhillyConfidential.com

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