published Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Alabama pastor indicted in wife's death still ordained

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A United Methodist pastor indicted in the gunshot killing of his wife and the wounding of his daughter remains an ordained minister seven months after his arrest, a church attorney said today.

Held without bond, the Rev. Terry Greer no longer can preach or perform services as a United Methodist pastor, said church lawyer Terry McElheny.

Yet Greer hasn't surrendered his preaching credentials and the church has not taken them from him, the attorney said.

"So yes, he is still a reverend," said McElheny, who represents the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Greer, 54, was on medical leave from Gardendale Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church at the time of the slaying seven months ago. A defense lawyer has said the shootings followed months of personal, professional and health problems.

Greer, whose wife Lisa was shot to death inside a church-owned home before he tried to kill himself, was indicted in June on charges of murder and attempted murder in the killing of his wife and the wounding of their daughter, records show. Court documents were made public just last week.

Now on an involuntary leave of absence following an April hearing held by denominational leaders, Greer no longer receives pay or benefits as a minister, McElheny said.

Greer is not performing ministerial duties, like preaching or counseling fellow prisoners, inside the Jefferson County jail, said Chief Deputy Randy Christian of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Police say Greer shot and killed wife Lisa Greer and wounded college-age daughter Suzanna Greer inside the parsonage owned by the Gardendale church in January.

The younger woman survived and notified a neighbor. Greer had repeatedly stabbed himself with a kitchen knife by the time police arrived, but he recovered enough after a two-month hospital stay to be transferred to jail.

An attorney for Greer, Henry Lagman, has said the minister suffered a "perfect storm" of personal and professional problems, including medical and psychological difficulties.

While Lagman did not respond to messages seeking comment on the indictment, he wrote extensive blog posts in the past that indicate the possibility of a defense based on mental problems.

Greer has not entered a plea to the charges.

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