A former Monroe County pastor, who's serving jail time for killing his second wife, has now answered to charges that he murdered his first wife.
Arthur Schirmer entered a no contest plea in the case Monday.
The Lebanon County DA said he was surprised by this decision.
Schirmer's attorney said this doesn't mean his client is guilty.
"This is a no contest plea. He denies he caused or brought about the death of his wife," Lebanon County Chief Public Defender Brian Deiderick said.
However former Monroe County Pastor Arthur Schirmer's no contest third degree murder plea could still land him a 40 year prison sentence for the 1999 death of his first wife, Jewel, in Lebanon County.
The 66 year old, is already serving a life sentence for killing his second wife, Betty Jean, and staging a bogus car crash scene to cover it up in Pocono Township, Monroe County back in 2008.
Deiderick said that trial played into his decision to plead.
"The affects it had on both him and his family, in all likelihood things were weighing on his mind when he made the decision he made," he said.
The Monroe case led to the re-opening of Jewel's death by Lebanon County District Attorney David Arnold back in 2008.
"This is the first case I've had where essentially no investigation done in first years after it occurred," Arnold said.
After a grand jury handed up the indictment back in September of 2012 we spoke with Jewel's brother John.
"I have been waiting 13 years for this day to come and it's time for justice," John Behney said.
Even though it's not a first degree conviction, Arnold thinks this ending does offer a sense of closure to the family.
"Jewel's brother John Behaney has been tortured by this for years. We can now provide him with a sense of justice for what defendant did," Arnold explained.
Schirmer hasn't yet been formally sentenced.
His time could run concurrent or be tacked on to the life sentence he is already serving for the death of his second wife.
Allentown, PA 18102
- News 69 News