And both trace their Irish roots to Cork, home county of Sr. Philomena Fogarty, who was brutally murdered last in March. The man accused of murdering Fogarty, Adrian O’Neill Robinson, 26, has been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia but is capable of standing trial on murder and abduction charges, according to a psychiatrist’s report filed with the General District Court in Norfolk.
Robinson is charged with killing the 67-year-old Fogarty, whose mutilated body was found in a Virginia Beach parking lot on March 26. He’s also charged with abducting Fogarty and 72-year-old Sr. Lucie Kristofik from their home in Hamilton, Ga. Kristofik survived the ordeal.
Robinson is also accused of murdering his father, 56-year-old Henry Robinson, in the Georgia town shortly before he abducted the two nuns.
Robinson faces a possible charge of first-degree murder, which potentially carries the death penalty in Virginia. The final nature of the charges against Robinson will be decided by Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney John Doyle.
Doyle said a court hearing to determine the nature of Robinson’s sentence should he be found guilty would take place toward the end of the month.
Doyle, who is an elected prosecutor, said that a subsection of Virginia law allowed his office to seek the death penalty because Robinson was accused of committing two murders in less than three years.
The clause did not require that both murder were committed in the state of Virginia.
Doyle, who said his family ties to Ireland were mainly in Cork, declined to be drawn on the matter of the death penalty itself or his views on the death penalty in the event of Robinson being found guilty.
“We’re all just trying to follow the law and will only discuss the merits in the courtroom,” he said. “I don’t want to speak about it outside the trial because we have an obligation to have a fair trial.”
But Bishop Walter Sullivan, in whose Richmond Diocese the trial will take place, has been speaking out in the case and in particular with regard to the potential death sentence for the accused.
“I’m totally opposed to it,” the bishop said.
Sullivan, whose roots are also in Cork, said that Fogarty order, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary based in Providence, R.I., had issued a statement calling for forgiveness.
“I interpret that as being against the death penalty,” he said.
Asked if he would pray for the accused, Robinson, Bishop Sullivan replied, “Oh sure.”
Asked if he might testify in the trial if the death penalty became an issue, Sullivan said he would.
Fogarty was from the Glasheen area of Cork City. She worked for a number of years in rural Georgia before her death. Before coming to the U.S. she had worked as a missionary in Japan.
People in the small town of Hamilton said after her death that Fogarty deserved comparison with Mother Teresa.
“Sr. Philomena was one of a kind,” said Father Ronnie Madden, the Galway-born pastor of Christ the King Church in Hamilton where Fogarty worked as associate parish coordinator, shortly after her death. “God broke the mold when he made her. She was the Mother Teresa of Harris County.”
Fogarty was also lauded during her funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah, himself Cork-born.
Robinson, who has prior charges of assault and theft, was arrested at a Burger King in Norfolk, Va., only hours after the nun’s body was found at a parking lot serving a nearby beach.
Her head, hands and feet had been severed. Police had been seeking Robinson since the previous Sunday after he had allegedly shot dead his 56-year-old father, Henry, at the home they shared in Hamilton, which is about 120 miles southwest of Atlanta.
The elder Robinson had been shot 16 times, apparently with two different rifles. Family members told authorities that Robinson had accused his father of sexually assaulting him before shooting him.
After the killing of his father, Adrian Robinson apparently walked three miles to the church and broke into the mobile home where the 68-year-old Fogarty lived with Kristofik.
Kristofik told investigators after her rescue that Robinson took $900, bound and gagged both nuns, put them in their car and drove to Norfolk, which is about 570 miles from Hamilton. Kristofik was found unhurt at a Norfolk hotel.