Dr. Rafael Robb's freedom was just six days away when his parole process came to a screeching halt. Robb, a former professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was about to be freed after serving just five years -- the minimum -- for bludgeoning his wife to death as she was wrapping Christmas gifts in 2006.
Now, after the victim's family finally got a chance to protest his release in front of the parole board, Robb's freedom is on hold so the board can consider the family's point of view. The board promised, however, to make a decision on Robb's parole by January 28, which is the day he was scheduled to be paroled.
The victim, Ellen Gregory Robb, was killed inside the couple's home. Her husband pleaded guilty to the murder. Prosecutors said he killed Ellen to avoid a costly divorce. Robb was sentenced to at least five years in prison and no more than ten. When he was paroled after serving just five years, the victim's family publicly protested. Her brother, Gary Gregory, told NBC10's Deanna Durante that the family had tried over and over again to protest Robb's release in front of the parole board. Each time, he said, they were denied.
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Late last week, State Representative Mike Vereb stepped in on the family's behalf and convinced the Chairman of the Parole Board, Michael Potteiger, to meet with the family. Vereb, a Republican, said after researching the case, he'd determined that the parole board likely broke the law and violated the family's rights by not allowing them to speak before the board.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Tressler, who oversaw the case, called Ellen's murder one of the most horrific in the history of Montgomery County. He also wrote to the parole board to protest Robb's release. His letter included information about Robb's treatment of his daughter:
"Even more telling is his [Robb's] attempt to manipulate his grieving daughter into continuing her relationship with him by threatening to withhold financial support for her future. 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 to the parole board."
The board denies breaking any laws, and said the responsibility of notifying families about appearing before the board belongs to the Office of Victim advocate.