The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 18, 2013

MIDDAY BRIEFING: Retired pastor testifies about wives' deaths

A.P. briefs from around the state


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."


Council votes to fire Irwin police chief

IRWIN — A Pittsburgh-area borough has voted unanimously to fire its police chief.

Irwin council members fired chief Joseph Pocsatko at a special meeting Thursday night, effective immediately. Pocsatko says that was wrong.

Officials declined to comment on the reasons for the firing.

The 37-year-old Pocsatko says he wasn't even told of the meeting and plans to appeal the firing.

Pocsatko had been chief for more than three years and was also a borough patrolman for 13 years. He took medical leave in October after injuring his hand during a scuffle with a suspect and was placed on administrative leave last month.

Mayor Dan Rose said the council had hired an investigator to look into "a number of incidents." Irwin is about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.


Teens face charges over weapons at schools

TOWAMENCIN — Three suburban Philadelphia teenagers face charges after police say they brought weapons onto school property in separate incidents.

Police in Towamencin say two Pennfield Middle School students, ages 14 and 15, brought a pellet gun and a BB gun to the middle school and to North Montco Technical Career Center, which they also attend.

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Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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