A Monroe County jury Tuesday night quickly convicted James Bidwell of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of his girlfriend, a death police originally said was a homicide but years later determined was a homicide.


Bidwell, who faces an automatic life prison sentence, bowed his head but was otherwise unemotional as the verdict was read. Sentencing was scheduled for May 11.


Defense claims that the case against Bidwell was awash in reasonable doubt were rejected by the jury after deliberating a little more than four hours.


The prosecution had admitted mistakes had been made in the initial investigation of the crime scene.


Earlier in the day in closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that the police who initially investigated the death of 27-year-old Kristin Wagner, who was found hanging by the neck in a Stroud Township junkyard owned by Bidwell, overlooked key details and did a "half-***** job."


In closing arguments Michael Mancuso, the first assistant district attorney, told the jury the police overlooked details at the scene that led them to conclude Wagner , had committed suicide in 2011 inside a filthy trailer at Bidwell’s junkyard, when a closer examination would have revealed the scene had been staged to make it look like a suicide and cover up the fact she had been murdered.


Mancuso said the trailer where the body was found was "chock full of evidence of staging," starting with the cable found looped around the neck without a knot, which a prosecution witness from England testified would have meant the body would have slipped out of and landed on the floor of the trailer.


Wagner’s death was labeled a suicide following an autopsy and she was just another file in the Monroe County Coroner’s Office until June 2014 when an Allentown man called police with information he claimed to have, concerning Bidwell’s alleged confession that he had choked Wagner to death and made the death look like a suicide.


Brian McMonagle, the Philadelphia attorney for Bidwell, referred to Richard Gerber, the Allentown man who informed on Bidwell, calling him a liar and he told the jury, as he did in his opening statements, "if you base a case on a lie, you’re going to lose." McMonagle said Gerber was a career criminal who was mad at Bidwell and wanted revenge. He also said Gerber had testified against his brother in a homicide case and had served time for stealing $4.5 million worth of equipment, including missile launchers owned by the government.


It was Gerber’s call to the police that led to a grand jury investigation and the ultimate arrest of Bidwell on homicide charges. McMonagle, referring to Gerber’s grand jury testimony, said "he should have been charged with perjury for his testimony before the grand jury."


Besides hiring McMonagle, a highly regarded attorney with a statewide reputation for defending high-profile cases, Bidwell’s defense has included testimony from Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally known forensic pathologist who has been involved in cases ranging from Elvis to JFK.