Rafael Robb, a former Penn economics professor and convicted murderer, has requested court permission to travel to Israel for family matters, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Wednesday. Prosecutors and family members of the victim have publicly opposed the request.
Robb was convicted in 2007 for bludgeoning his wife, Ellen Gregory Robb, to death following a dispute about holiday plans. He was released from prison in 2017 and was ordered to pay $128 million to his daughter Olivia, who was 12 at the time of the murder. Robb is on parole until January 2027, according to The Mercury which is a newspaper covering Montgomery County.
Robb appeared before a Montgomery County Court judge on June 28 to request a trip to Israel to handle his mother's estate, according to the Philly Inquirer. An agent from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole recommended the request be granted, reported The Mercury.
Gary Gregory, the brother of Robb's deceased wife, told the Philly Inquirer he was shocked that the court nearly granted Robb's request.
“It really struck me,” Gregory told the Philly Inquirer. “He was one hearing away from being able to leave the country.”
Samantha Cauffman, the deputy district attorney for Montgomery County, told the Philly Inquirer Robb would pose a flight risk if allowed to leave the country.
“The defendant has a history of being very manipulative," Cauffman told the Philly Inquirer. "He’s very intelligent."
The probation board originally gave Robb parole in 2013 and then revoked it after heavy lobbying from the Gregory family and Pennsylvania state representatives. The family said they would "vehemently oppose" Robb's subsequent requests for early release, which were also denied.
Cauffman asked the judge for more time to prepare her argument, according to The Mercury, as prosecutors first heard about Robb's travel request on the same day as the hearing.
“He is a murderer and it was a very violent, horrible murder," Cauffman told The Mercury. "He should not be given permission to travel outside of the country."
The hearing for Robb's travel request is scheduled for July 12.