Ex-Pastor Testifies: “I Didn’t Stage an Event”

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STROUDSBURG -- Former Pastor Arthur Schirmer was the last to take the stand in his murder trial.

He rebutted the prosecution's argument - that he beat his wife in 2008 and made it look like an accident.

Instead, he told the jury he swerved to miss a deer and, "I didn't stage an event,".

Schirmer was calm, confident and soft-spoken when he was the stand testifying in his own defense.

The former pastor of the United Methodist Church in Reeders insisted he did not kill his wife Betty in July of 2008.

"Arthur, what compelled you to testify?" asked Newswatch 16.

Also Schirmer didn't say anything in the hall, but on the witness stand he explained to a jury,

"I opened the door, I helped Betty into the car, I shut the door. We intended to travel to Pocono Medical Center. At some point, a deer appeared.  Just before, Betty was uncomfortable, in pain, and began to undue her seatbelt to adjust.  As she did so, a deer came out to the right, I swerved to the left to avoid.  Betty was moving back and forth from me swerving.  We got back on the highway. My arm went out to prevent her from moving and I was trying to drive the car. We then made it to the guard rail,".

During the entire time on the stand, Schirmer remained calm and soft-spoken when testifying about both Betty and the accident he claims killed his first wife, Jewel, in 1999. He also faces trial for Jewel's death in Lebanon County.

When the prosecution got the chance to cross-examine Schirmer, Assistant District Attorney Mike Mancuso asked him, "You taught Sunday School? You taught about the importance of telling the truth, right?"

He then asked Schirmer why he lied to the daughter of a man who shot himself inside the church's office. Witnesses said the man was upset because Schirmer was having an affair with his wife, Cynthia Moyer.

The prosecutor then wondered if the ex-pastor can lie about that affair, he could also lie about how his wife Betty died.

That's when former pastor Arthur Schirmer told a jury, "I didn't stage an event,".

Closing arguments begin at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.

They're expected to take all morning and the jury should begin deliberating in the afternoon.

The courthouse is closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Junior holiday.