Former professor Rafael Robb to be released from prison

Former economics professor set to go on parole after pleading guilty to killing his wife

· January 18, 2013, 12:26 am

Rafael Robb, the former Penn professor who was sentenced to prison in 2008 for killing his wife, Ellen, is set to be released later this month.

On Dec. 22, 2006, Ellen Robb was found bludgeoned to death in the family’s home. Approximately two weeks later, Robb, a tenured economics professor, was arrested and was later charged with first- and third-degree murder.

Later that in 2007, Robb pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and admitted to beating his wife to death with a chin-up bar after an argument about their daughter’s holiday travel plans. A year later, he was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.

Montgomery County District Attorney and 1987 College graduate Risa Ferman said she feels strongly that Robb should not be paroled, calling him “a dangerous man, an unremorseful man and a brutal, vicious killer.”

Ferman, along with former District Attorney Bruce Caster and members of Ellen Robb’s family, are currently trying to convince the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to overturn its decision.

Ferman, who investigated the crime the day it happened, called the murder “the most brutal killing that I’ve ever seen.”

Robb’s lawyer and the state parole board were not available to comment as of press time.

Robb’s sentence was in line with the average sentence of nine years for first-time offenders committing domestic violence homicides, according to Richard Gelles, the dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice who has also done extensive research on domestic violence.

However, Gelles said it is hard to predict whether Robb will commit another violent crime while free, as he “falls out of the typical age range of these sorts of cases.” Because of this, Gelles said, “I worry about a lack of stake in conformity.”

If his parole decision is not overturned, Robb will be a free man on Jan. 28.

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