Almost a year ago, a Penn econ prof Rafael Robb's wife was beaten to death in their home. A month later, the professor was charged with the murder and his attorney said he would be pleading not guilty.
Yesterday however, Robb pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the case and is expected to serve (what to me seems an incredibly light) 4.5 - 7 year sentence (another report on the story is here).
The circumstances seem somewhat contradictory. On the one hand:
Robb, 57, said Monday that he got into an argument with his wife about a trip she was taking with their daughter and whether they would be returning in time for the daughter to return to school.
"We started a discussion about that. The discussion was tense," Robb said. "We were both anxious about it. We both got angry. At one point, Ellen pushed me. ... I just lost it."
"It's a classic heat-of-passion killing," said Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor.
On the other hand though:
Detectives believed the scene had been staged to look like a burglary. The murder weapon - a grab-rail exercise bar that had not yet been installed, Robb said - was not found.
Robb was an expert in game theory, a complex melding of psychology, human behavior and economics - all aimed at determining what one's adversary will do next. With that background, police said, Robb probably thought he could outsmart them.
To a certain hideous extent, given that the crime was so heinous and that original charge was murder while the final plea was for "only" voluntary manslaughter and a light sentence, I guess he kind of did.