Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Witness Recounts Stabbing by Minister

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Witness Recounts Stabbing by Minister

Article excerpt

Paterson resident Stephanie Flowers said she thought her old friend the Rev. Edward Fairley was just stopping by her house to drop off some paperwork -- until he pulled out a switchblade.

"She has to die," Flowers quoted Fairley as announcing before plunging the knife into her friend, the Rev. Simone Shields, then 52, who was in the kitchen visiting on March 1, 2011.

From there, it was a bloodbath. Fairley, 61, stabbed his longtime mistress 27 times in a jealous rage just days before she was to marry another man. Shields was critically wounded but survived her injuries after months of hospitalization.

Fairley founded Koinonia and Christian Ministries on East 36th Street in Paterson about 15 years ago. Shields, a Paterson schoolteacher, worked with Fairley as an associate pastor for the congregation.

Fairley, who is charged with attempted murder, has admitted he was the assailant, but said he was in an out-of-control rage and that his actions were not deliberate or premeditated. He is representing himself in the case and is asking the jury to convict him only of aggravated assault.

Flowers had come to testify before jurors and state Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark in Paterson on Tuesday but fainted and had to be taken to the hospital just before taking the witness stand. She returned to court Wednesday and took the stand, appearing tense but collected.

She explained that for as long as she had known Fairley and Shields, she had no idea about their affair or that Fairley had been stalking and harassing Shields, who had broken off the relationship in preparation for her marriage.

Fairley had been married during their affair and wanted Shields to continue a sexual relationship with him even after she got married. But Shields wanted to finally move on, according to prosecutors -- and that, Fairley said in his opening statement, sent him into a blind rage.

Flowers testified that when she told Shields she had gotten a text from Fairley saying he was stopping by, she could see Shields became "uncomfortable. …

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