A Pennsylvania ex-pastor convicted for murdering his second wife in 2008 now faces trial on whether he killed his first wife, too.
Arthur Schirmer, a former associate pastor at a Methodist church in northeast Pennsylvania was convicted Tuesday of first degree murder and evidence tampering.
The jurors concluded that Schirmer bludgeoned his second wife Betty Schirmer with a crowbar at his garage, then loaded her to their car and staged an accident to cover-up the crime, the Associated Press has reported.
Schirmer, 64, pleaded not guilty and plans to appeal the conviction.
The former Reeders United Methodist pastor had testified at the trail that his wife died of injuries from a car accident when he swerved their car to avoid hitting a deer. But he lost control and hit the guard rail.
Betty Schirmer succumbed to the injuries a day after the crash.
However, the prosecution established that the car crash was staged by Schirmer, as the car during the accident was apparently moving at less than 25 mph, which is too slow to cause Betty Schirmer injuries, ABC News has reported.
The jurors also had found Betty Schirmer’s blood at their garage indicating she was injured before the accident.
Schirmer, who has admitted that he had been cheating his wife, faces a separate trial for the death of his first wife Jewel Schirmer, who died in April 1999 in their Lebanon, Pa., home.
According to Schirmer, Jewel was found dead at the bottom of the basement staircase. He testified that she died after falling down the stairs while vacuuming the steps.
Schirmer pleaded not guilty in the case.
The prosecution had presented evidence from the autopsy reports of the Betty Schirmer trial and argued that both women were beaten to death by the accused who later covered up the crime.
Dr. Wayne Ross, who conducted autopsy on both women - one 1999 and another in 2008 - said they bore identical assault marks.
"You look at Jewel Schirmer, she's got two strikes on the right side of her head. It looks like a long cylindrical object," Ross said in his testimony, the Associated Press reported. "Compare that to Betty Schirmer, she's got two strikes in the right side of her head. The lacerations are similar. The patterns are similar."
Both the alleged murder cases were initially considered as accidents but, a suicide in Schirmer’s office that lead to the finding that the Pastor had an affair with his secretary prompted the authorities to investigate him further, leading to his arrest.
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