Judge Rejects Appeal of Former Methodist Pastor Who Killed Two Wives

Arthur "A.B." Schirmer is escorted into the Lebanon Municipal Building on Sept. 10 for sentencing in the death of his first wife, Jewel Schirmer. (FILE)
Arthur “A.B.” Schirmer is escorted into the Lebanon Municipal Building on Sept. 10 for sentencing in the death of his first wife, Jewel Schirmer. (FILE)

President Judge John Tylwalk has rejected an appeal from Arthur “A.B.” Schirmer, the former Methodist pastor who was sentenced by Tylwalk in September to 20 to 40 years in state prison for murdering his first wife, Jewel, in 1999.

Chief Public Defender Brian Deiderick, who represents Schirmer, based the appeal on four issues:

1. Tylwalk failed to consider factors necessary to determine an appropriate sentence.

2. Tylwalk improperly used Schirmer’s no-contest plea as a failure to take responsibility or be held accountable for a charge of criminal homicide.

3. Tylwalk did not consider statements from Schirmer’s family members, and

4. Tylwalk had predetermined the sentence prior to the Sept. 10 sentencing hearing.

In his 23-page Dec. 5 order, which was released Tuesday, Tylwalk rejected all four arguments and ordered that his order and opinion be transmitted to Pennsylvania Superior Court for its review.

Schirmer, 66, entered a no-contest plea to third-degree murder, which carries a minimum term of between six and 20 years under state sentencing guidelines. He is also serving a life sentence after being found guilty by a Monroe County jury in 2012 for staging a car crash in Pocono Township to cover up the death of his second wife, Betty Jean, in 2008.

Tylwalk made Schirmer’s sentencing here consecutive to the Monroe County case.

“We believe that we properly considered the relevant factors in determining the sentence,” Tylwalk wrote.

“The evidence suggested that Jewel suffered a vicious attack, not a fall down a flight of stairs. As pointed out by her brother (John Behney), some of her injuries indicated that she had been attacked from behind with a crowbar being smashed into her head. She had numerous defensive injuries which indicated that she had struggled to fight off the attack.”

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SOURCE: Lebanon Daily News
Steve Snyder

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