The family of Ellen Robb, the wife and mother who was brutally murdered by her husband, Rafael Robb, just before Christmas in 2006, has been granted an opportunity to speak to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole regarding its recent decision to release Robb from prison after officials uncovered a law requiring the board to give victims a voice in the parole process.
Montgomery Count District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, State Representatives Mike Vereb (R-150) and Todd Stephens (R-151), and Ellen Robb’s brother, Gary Gregory, announced that Ellen’s family would be meeting with the chairman of the parole board next week.
“The opportunity to meet with the chairman of the parole board is a terrific development and a step forward in their reconsidering and correcting a wrong that they can right,” Gregory said.
Rafael Robb admitted to bludgeoning his wife just before Christmas in 2006, and was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter after entering into a plea bargain during the 2007 court case.
The sentence caused great upset among Ellen Robb’s family and victims’ rights advocates, who were shocked when the parole board announced his release after just over the minimum time served.
Vereb, who had previously spoken out against the parole board’s decision, said that when he sat down to look at legislation to protect victims in the parole process, he found that it was already there – but that the parole board was not adhering to it.
Vereb said in a letter to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole that, according to Title 18 PS sections 11.501 and 11.502 of Pennsylvania state law, victims or their immediate families must be notified no later than 90 days prior to the parole date of an offender, and they are permitted to appear in person before the board.
While Ellen Robb’s family was notified, Vereb said, it was not within the 90-day window.
Stephens said that Gregory contacted his legislative office a year ago when he was attempting to appear infront of the board to oppose Rafael Robb's parole, and the request was denied.
According to Ferman, that this is an issue of victims’ rights that will hopefully change after today.
“The parole board isn’t just there to open the doors of the prison and let people out,” Ferman said. “They are also there to consider the rights of victims and to protect the rights of victims. For them to unleash a dangerous, violent criminal into our community without ever talking to the victims is unconscionable, and that should change after today.”
[Editor's note: Reporter Brittany Tressler is the daughter of Judge Paul W. Tressler, who presided over the trial of Rafael Robb.]