Expressing "outrage" over the impending release of a Penn professor convicted in the slaying of his wife six years ago, the victim's family and the Montgomery County district attorney are opposing parole for Rafael Robb.
Robb pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2007 for beating his wife, Ellen, to death while she was wrapping Christmas presents in the couple's home in the Gulph Mills section of Upper Merion Township.
He was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison in the December 2006 death.
Family members were notified about a week and a half ago that Robb is scheduled to be set free Jan. 28, said Gary Gregory, Ellen Robb's brother.
"It really raises a whole level of emotional distress that we didn't anticipate," Gregory said. He said the family was "shocked" and expected Robb to serve more time.
The parole board's decision says Robb was granted parole because of his "participation in and completion of prescribed institutional programs," his "positive institutional behavior," a positive recommendation from the Department of Corrections and his "acceptance of responsibility."
Parole board officials wouldn't confirm the exact date of Robb's release, citing safety concerns.
Robb had previously been interviewed in October 2011, but was denied parole at that time, said Leo Dunn, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said she recently learned of Robb's scheduled release. She says she's asked the state parole board to reconsider the decision.
Ellen Robb's relatives are also pushing for the board change its mind. They're asking family and community members to write new letters to the board.
"We're hoping than an updated outpouring will serve as new data for the parole board," Gregory said. But, he said, the family is "pragmatic" and recognizes that the board doesn't reconsider decisions often.
Dunn said the board will re-evaluate its decisions if members receive new information about a case. But additional letters that reiterate already-known details won't lead to a review, he said.
The former economics professor applied last year to participate in a pre-release program run by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, according to Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Police found Ellen Robb in her kitchen beaten beyond recognition with a chin-up bar.