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Convicted Widow Loses Bid for Veteran Benefits

(CN) - A veteran's widow who received a governor's pardon for the shooting death of her husband lost her bid for death benefits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Although Edythe Robinson insists she's innocent, she was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of her husband, Gerald, a U.S. Army veteran.

Her conviction was overturned, but she remained in custody for 588 days. She later pleaded no contest with protestation of innocence, citing a lack of money and her mother's ailing health as reasons for accepting the plea.

A Florida court found her guilty of manslaughter and sentenced her to time served. The state governor pardoned her in 2002, but restricted her from owning or using firearms.

Robinson applied for dependency and indemnity compensation benefits, but was turned down by the Board of Veterans' Appeals. The board said the manslaughter conviction amounted to a guilty verdict.

The appeals court agreed with the board that the pardon was not unconditional and did not expunge the manslaughter conviction.

"[T]he appellant's conviction for manslaughter resulting from a duly supported plea of nolo contendere is sufficient ... to support the finding by the Board that Mrs. Robinson intentionally and wrongfully caused the veteran's death," Judge Davis wrote.

The court denied her appeal for benefits.

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