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Schirmer case: Defense comes out swinging

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 16 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 18 2013 09:32:19 AM CST

Did former Monroe County pastor Arthur Shirmer's two wives die in accidents.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. -

Did former Monroe County pastor Arthur Schirmer's two wives die in accidents.

That's what the defense is trying to prove.

The prosecution wrapped its case and the defense has come out swinging.

Dr. Johnathan Briskin testified both of Schirmer's wives died in accidents.

Briskin told jurors Jewel Schirmer had injuries that were consistent with a fall down the stairs which is what Arthur Schirmer claims happened at the couple's Lebanon County home in 1999.

Dr. Briskin also testified Betty Jean's Schirmer's injuries were the type experienced in a car accident.

In 2008, Shirmer says he was taking Betty Jean to the hospital, swerved to avoid a deer and crashed into a guard rail in Pocono Township Monroe County.

Briskin disputed the conclusions made by the prosecution's pathologists that the women were struck in the head with an object similar to a crowbar, saying the skull fractures would have been much more severe.

Next, the defense tackled blood spatter analysis.

A blood pattern expert testified it did not appear Betty Jean was bleeding when she got in the car with Schirmer in July of 2008.

The blood pattern expert testified while it was possible in her opinion, there would be more blood in the car if Betty Jean was already bleeding before the accident.

The expert also criticized methods used to gather blood evidence but under cross examination admitted that her own experiments for the case encountered problems.

This is the first of two murder trials for Arthur Schirmer.

Monroe County jurors will decide on the death of Betty Jean.

Schirmer faces trial in Lebanon County for Jewel's death in the spring.

It is unknown if Schirmer will testify.