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From beyond the grave, slain priest pleads for mercy for his accused killer


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/31/17


A Florida priest murdered last year has appealed from beyond the grave for his alleged killer to be shown mercy.

Reverend Rene Robert enshrined his opposition to the death penalty in a letter he wrote 22 years ago, in which he apparently foresaw his own killing. The Catholic priest’s note requested that whoever took his life be spared execution “no matter how heinous their crime or how much I may have suffered”. Bishops have petitioned the court to drop capital punishment in the case. The body of 71-year-old Fr Robert, of St Augustine, Florida, was found riddled with bullets in woods in Georgia in April 2016. Authorities say he was killed days earlier by a man, Steven Murray, whom he had been trying to help for months. In 1995, the priest signed a “Declaration of Life” document, which was witnessed and notarised by a lawyer. “I request that the person found guilty of homicide for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances,” wrote Fr Robert. The note had remained in his personnel file at his own insistence, said Catholic bishops, who are protesting against the prosecutor’s decision to seek capital punishment for his killer. …”He was well aware for the potential violence that might involve his ministry, but he cared for those people nonetheless,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory. The archbishop was among about a dozen clergymen who rallied on Tuesday outside the court in Augusta, Georgia. They delivered a petition by more than 7,400 people from Fr Robert’s diocese asking that his wishes be honoured. “We want to be the voice that he no longer has to make that ‘Declaration of Life’ a part of the understanding of this particular case,” said Bishop Gregory Hartmayer outside court.

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Photo: Facebook

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