UPDATE AT 4:30 p.m.: The jury returned after deliberating for less than two hours and found Arthur Schirmer guilty of killing his wife Betty in 2008.
STROUDSBURG — In a case getting national attention, closing arguments got underway Tuesday morning in the Monroe County murder trial of Arthur Schirmer.
The former pastor is charged with killing his wife.
In a Stroudsburg courtroom, the jury heard about two different sides of Arthur Schirmer. A jury will have to decide if he’s a mourning husband or a killer.
The defense closing argument went first, hammering away at their contention the case against Arthur Schirmer is built upon bad science and church gossip. The defense painted Schirmer as a concerned husband who was driving his wife, Betty, for medical treatment after a fall, when their car crashed near Tannersville in 2008.
Schirmer’s attorney said prosecutors never proved a motive, and the police investigation was flawed.
The prosecution believes that Schirmer beat Betty, and staged the car crash to cover it up and portrayed him as a lying, cheating husband, who wanted Betty dead.
Schirmer is also charged with killing his first wife, Jewel, in Lebanon County in 1999. He is currently awaiting trial on that charge.
On Good Morning America, ABC’s legal analyst said what happens in Lebanon County could depend on the decision of a jury in Stroudsburg.
“If he’s found not guilty in this case, it certainly may embolden him to think that he may be found not guilty again in the other case, if he’s found guilty in this case, tough to know whether it may lead him to be likely to try to enter into some type of plea,” said Dan Abrams.
If found guilty of first degree murder, Arthur Schirmer goes to prison for the rest of his life.
The jury should get the case later by Tuesday afternoon.