Houston Matters

Why Friends Of A Murdered Priest Fought To Keep His Killer Off Death Row

Houston’s Cimela Kidonakis discusses her documentary, Where There is Darkness.

Father Rene Robert
Father Rene Robert, a Florida priest who was murdered in 2016. The quest to keep his killer off death row is chronicled in the film Where There Is Darkness.

Where There Is Darkness Movie Poster

A documentary by a Houston filmmaker tells the story of a beloved priest who was murdered and the unusual situation that followed.

The film, called Where There is Darkness, tells the story of Father Rene Robert of St. Augustine, Fla.

In 1995, the priest signed a “Declaration of Life,” stating that if he were ever murdered, he wouldn’t want his killer to get the death penalty. But, more than two decades later, that’s exactly what happened.

In 2016, Steven Murray, a troubled man whom the priest had helped numerous times, shot and killed Fr. Robert, leaving his body in the Georgia woods.

Where There Is Darkness - Court Hearing
Steven Murray (right) appears in court in connection with the murder of Fr. Rene Robert.

The documentary tells the story of who Fr. Robert was, what he meant to the community, the story of Murray’s difficult past, and the fight by Fr. Robert’s many loved ones to keep the convicted murderer off death row.

In the audio above, co-director Cimela Kidonakis tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty about the film, which will be screened Friday, March 1, at the Prison City Film Festival in Huntsville. And again March 23 in Katy.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the Senior Producer for Houston Matters. He has a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University and has served as news director for NPR and PBS stations around Texas and The West, including: KUNR-FM in Reno, Nev.; KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev.; and KWBU-TV/FM in Waco, Texas. He...

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