Stroudsburg, Monroe County - A minister accused of murder took the stand in his own defense Friday.
After nine days of testimony, Arthur Schirmer was the last witness to speak to the jury. He insisted he did not kill his wife Betty Jean.
Schirmer seemed confident when his own lawyer questioned him. But then the prosecution took over, and things appeared to fall apart.
On direct examination, Schirmer explained what he says happened when his wife Betty died in 2008. He maintained his story that he was driving Betty to the hospital because she had jaw pain. She unbuckled her seatbelt to get more comfortable and at that exact moment a deer darted into the road. Schirmer said he swerved and hit a guard rail.
Prosecutors don't buy that story. They noted that Betty's blood was found in the Schirmer's garage. They say that means she was injured and bleeding before her husband put her in the vehicle and then staged a crash.
Schirmer explained the blood stains saying Betty had cut herself in the garage some time before she died. It happened while she was moving a wood pile.
Schirmer's attorney Brandon Reish said, "This has been extremely stressful for everybody and this has been a long two weeks for family, it's been a long long time for him. It's been more than two weeks."
Schirmer seemed especially stressed when Assistant District Attorney Mike Mancuso questioned him and elicited some surprising responses. Mancuso asked the preacher, "You're a bit of a hypocrite aren't you?" Schirmer responded, "A big one."
Mancuso focused his questions around accusations that Schirmer is a liar. He pointed out that Schirmer lied to a teenager when she asked about his affair with her mother. Schirmer admitted that he lied about multiple affairs.
The prosecutor asked Schirmer why he had more details about the crash on the stand than he did when police originally questioned him. Schirmer hesitated and said, "I didn't have all the details remembered at that time."
Reish said prosecutors did a good job. But he isn't done fighting yet. He said, "[Mancuso] pulled out some inconsistencies. By and large I think putting all the evidence we needed to in the case and we'll do a good job closing."
Lawyers will make their closing arguments Tuesday morning.
After this trial, Schirmer will face trial for allegedly killing his wife Jewel in 1999. That was in Lebanon County. Prosecutors say he injured her and then made it look like she fell down the stairs.