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Former pastor gets life sentence for killing second wife

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   March 19, 2013 at 9:47 AM   |   Comments

March 19 (UPI) -- Arthur "A.B." Schirmer, 64, was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole in the fatal bludgeoning of his second wife in 2008. Two months ago, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of Betty Schirmer, which brings an automatic life sentence.

The former Methodist Pastor had testified that he was driving his wife to the hospital about jaw pain when he swerved to avoid a deer, hitting a guard rail. Police initially believed she died in the 2008 car accident.

State police investigated further when, months later, a man committed suicide in Schirmer's office after learning the pastor was in a relationship with his wife, the church secretary. In addition to finding evidence of blood and attempted cleanup in the couple's garage, authorities determined the low-speed car crash could not have caused Schirmer's extensive brain injuries.

Schirmer's family continues to defend his innocence. His girlfriend Cindy Moyer, whose husband committed suicide, spoke on his behalf outside court Monday. So did his daughter with his first wife, Amy Wolfgang, and his daughter with the victim, Julie Campbell.

The investigation into Betty Schirmer's death led police and prosecutors to take another look at first wife Jewel Schirmer's case. Arthur Schirmer claimed he was out for a run on April 23, 1999, when he returned home to find his wife's body in a pool of blood at the bottom of the basement steps.

He was charged last September with the killing of his first wife, and is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

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