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Crime & Courts

Retired Pa. pastor testifies in own defense about the deaths of his first and second wives

A retired Pennsylvania pastor accused of killing his second wife is testifying in his own defense.

Arthur Schirmer took the stand on Friday at his trial in the Pocono Mountain community of Stroudsburg.

Schirmer is charged with homicide in the 2008 death of Betty Schirmer. He is charged separately in the 1999 death of his first wife, Jewel. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

In court, he appeared calm and showed little emotion as he described the deaths of both wives.

He says he found Jewel dead at the bottom of the basement staircase when he came home from a jog. He says she had been vacuuming dog hair from the steps.

Schirmer described his decision to remove Betty from life-support after a car accident as "agonizing."

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