Pastors Watching Ex-Pastor Murder Trial, Praying for Everyone

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STROUDSBURG- An expert for the defense at the homicide trial of a former pastor in the Poconos testified Thursday that the blood stains in Arthur Schirmer's car match up with the story he is telling.

The story? That his wife was killed in a car crash.

Meanwhile, also inside the courtroom, the crowd is growing to watch the trial.

Some of that attention is coming from members of the church community in the Stroudsburg area.

"We wanted to come and be able to pray for God's love and God's peace would be upon everything that happens here at the trial," said Pastor Dana Antal, of the Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church.

Dana Antal and Lynda Keefer are co-pastors of Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church.  They're coming to the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg to watch the trial of the ex-pastor of the United Methodist Church in Reeders.

Arthur Schirmer is accused of beating his wife Betty in July 2008, then staging a car crash on Route 715 near Tannersville to make it look like she was hurt in the wreck.

Betty died a day later at a hospital.

"There are a lot of people on both sides struggling with what happened, and that which is being discussed and that which is going on and we just want to be a part of it," said Pastor Antal.

The defense called a blood splatter expert from Syracuse University to the stand.

She questioned how state police collected and presented blood stain evidence taken from the car and from the garage where prosecutors say Schirmer beat his wife.

The next witness, a forensic pathologist from the Philadelphia area, who countered the prosecution's argument that Schirmer beat both Betty and his first wife, Jewel, then staged accidents to cover up the abuse.

Jewel Schirmer died in 1999 after falling down a flight of stars at the couple's home in Lebanon County.  Schirmer still faces trial there.

As for the two pastors who came out to see the trial in Monroe County, "I'm more about seeing those who are being affected by the case, who are broken, that they would experience the peace and love of God," said Pastor Antal.

"We're just here to express the love and the grace of Christ for everyone.  Everyone who is impacted by this tragedy," said Pastor Lynda Keefer, of Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church.

The trial resumes Friday at 9:00 a.m.

Closing arguments are expected to take place sometime next week.