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Arthur Schirmer takes the stand in his own defense

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:18:55 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 18 2013 06:01:55 PM CST

He's accused of killing two wives.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. -

He's accused of killing two wives.

Friday jurors heard his side of the story.

Former Monroe County Pastor Arthur Schirmer took the stand as the last witness in his murder trial.

Former Reeder's United Methodist Pastor Arthur Schirmer was silent as he left a Monroe County courtroom.

But Schirmer had plenty to say on the witness stand testifying in his own defense.

Schirmer is hoping jurors believe his second wife, Betty Jean, was critically injured in a car accident in 2008, and not murdered by his own hands.

Schirmer claims he was taking Betty Jean to the hospital, swerved to avoid a deer and hit a guard rail in Pocono Township.

Schirmer spoke of the decision to take her off of life support saying quote, "it was agonizing because we wanted her to live."

Schirmer also testified about the 1999 death of his first wife, Jewel, for which he will stand trial this spring.

Schirmer says Jewel fell down the stairs of the couple's Lebanon County home.
Cross examination started with an exchange that set the tone.

Prosecutor Michael Mancuso saying "You're scared aren't you."

Schirmer replied: "Nervous."

Mancuso: "You're nervous you won't be believed."

Mancuso grilled Schirmer about the deaths of his wives, about numerous infidelities during marriage and got him to admit he lied to cover up an affair.

Mancuso accused Schirmer of adding never heard before details and trying to make his story fit the evidence.

Evidence the prosecution says proves Schirmer beat both wives and tried to cover it up.

An accusation for which Schirmer replied, "I did not stage an event."

"The evidence came in the way we expected the evidence to come in it matches up with out opening argument and it matches up with our closing argument," said Defese Attorney Brandon Reish.

Closing arguments are set for Tuesday morning.