Lawyer claims self defense for Dayton brother in death of pastor

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Prosecutors accuse Daniel schooler of shooting Pastor William Schooler in the church office.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The wife of the pastor at St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church saw her brother-in-law raise his arm and fire two shots toward the floor where her husband was lying in his office, according to prosecutors.

Daniel Schooler, 69, is on trial in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for the murder of his brother, William Schooler, 70, who died Feb. 28, 2016 of four gunshot wounds.

Daniel was indicted on seven counts — aggravated murder, two counts of murder, felonious assault and two counts of having weapons under disability. He also faces a violent offender specification due to two first- or second-degree violent felony convictions in the past 20 years.

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“For whatever reason, the defendant came to church angry that day,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Nicole Amrhein told jurors during Monday’s opening statements. “He came angry and armed — armed with a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun.”

Amrhein said that after William gave a prayer and the choir began to sing in the church at 3302 Nancy Ave., Daniel followed William into William’s office and fired the first round of shots at his brother.

Amrhein said all 20 or 25 people ran out of the church except one — William’s wife Helen, who ran back into her husband’s office. The prosecutor said Helen was blocked from seeing her husband by Daniel being in the way.

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“She sees, as he lifts up his arm, pulls the trigger and fires the gun into the floor two more times behind the desk,” Amrhein said, “where her husband is ultimately found dead.”

Defense attorney Jay Carter said the brothers had an “adversarial relationship for years” and that Daniel feared William.

“You will hear evidence that William and Daniel seriously disagreed about the direction of the church, which happened to be part of the family legacy for many years,” Carter told jurors, adding that Daniel wanted to talk to William about his “apprehensions and fears.”

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Carter said an altercation happened and that his client never denied shooting William Schooler. The attorney said many people heard the gunshots but no one witnessed the initial encounter between the brothers.

“You will hear evidence and evidence will show that the events of Feb. 28, 2016, were the culmination of a toxic relationship between Daniel and William.”

Court records show that in 2011, Daniel sued William asking the church council for a share of the money from properties owned by their parents. William prevailed after a bench trial, and Daniel’s appeal was denied.

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“Finally, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” Carter said, “evidence will show that Daniel Schooler is not guilty of murder and felonious assault involving William Schooler and acted in self defense.”

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. today in Judge Steven Dankof’s courtroom.

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