U.S. News

Brother of Ohio pastor shot dead during service pleads not guilty

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The brother of an Ohio pastor who was shot and killed during a Sunday church service pleaded not guilty to the pastor’s murder, according to court records.

Daniel Gregory Schooler, 68, who faces a possible sentence of life without parole if convicted, had his bail set at $1 million in a court appearance on Wednesday, court records showed. He had been charged in the death of Reverend William B. Schooler, 70, at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton.

Schooler’s court-appointed public defender was not immediately available for comment.

Dayton police said they did not know the motive for the shooting, which occurred inside a church office during the service.

The pastor was shot four times with a stolen .380 caliber hand gun, with the final shot witnessed by Helen Schooler, his wife of 49 years, according to court documents.

“The defendant then laid the gun down and waited for police who took him into custody,” according to a criminal complaint in the matter.

Schooler, who is being held at the Montgomery County Jail in downtown Dayton, was charged with one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and felonious assault, and with having weapons while under disability.

In 2011, Schooler filed a lawsuit against his brother, seeking $25,000 in a dispute over their parents’ estate. Schooler represented himself in the case, which was eventually dismissed by a Montgomery County judge.

In 2001, Schooler was convicted of felonious assault with a deadly weapon and given five years of probation. He had originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charge of threatening a man with a gun.

Schooler was also charged with kidnapping and felonious assault with a weapon in 2002, and eventually convicted of the assault with a deadly weapon charge and sentenced to two years in prison.

William Schooler’s funeral is set for Thursday at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Reporting by Kim Palmer; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bernadette Baum