A University of Pennsylvania professor who confessed to beating his wife to death with a chin-up bar at their Upper Merion home a few days before Christmas in 2006 is set to be released from prison later this month.
KYW Newsradio reports that Rafael Robb, once recognized among the world's leading economics theorists, had his parole approved last November. If he is released as expected, he will have served close to the minimum portion of his 5-10 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.
The 62-year-old Robb, who is originally from Israel, pleaded guilty to that charge in November 2007 as part of a plea agreement. He is currently incarcerated at SCI Mercer, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Ellen Robb, who was about to celebrate her 50th birthday at the time of her death, had spoken to a divorce attorney and was said to have been seeking $4,000 per month in spousal support, prosecutors said.
Ellen Robb was beaten so brutally that police did not initially think she'd been bludgeoned.
"It appeared to us that she had been shot in the face at close range, possibly by a shotgun or a high-powered rifle," said Upper Merion Detective David Gershanick, in an interview for an Investigation Discovery program that aired in January 2011.
In pleading guilty, Robb told the court that he then staged a break-in at the home so that he could blame the murder on a non-existent burglar.
Ellen Robb's family is calling on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to reconsider Robb's parole, KYW reports. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman has echoed that call, according to the Times Herald. Ellen Robb's brother, Gary Gregory, told the Times Herald that his former brother-in-law's parole was "unfathomable."
Gregory told KYW that Robb has never shown remorse for the crime.
As of March 2012, the Robbs' former home in the Wayne section of Upper Merion remained vacant, according to a report by WPVI-TV. Montgomery County property records indicate the home is owned by the estate of Ellen Robb.