UPenn Professor Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

UPenn Economics professor Rafael Robb pleaded guilty yesterday morning to charges of voluntary manslaughter. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Robb had been intending to present an alibi defense when his trial began, but changed his mind. By pleading guilty to manslaughter, he faces anywhere from 4 to 20 years in prison, but avoids the life sentence that would have accompanied a conviction for first-degree murder.

Robb had been suspected of killing his wife, Ellen, last December, when they had argued about when she and their daughter would return from a holiday vacation. As reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Robb says he “just lost it”, and beat his wife to death with a metal chin-up bar. The couple had been planning to divorce.

Robb had been on permanent leave from UPenn since he was arrested last year. He has waived his right to a quick sentencing, so it could take several months before his sentence is announced.

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