“The monster that you have painted for the world to see, I don’t think that monster existed…for everything you’ve accused him of, there never was proof, just accusations. I think that’s sad because he can’t speak for himself.”– Diane Winkler, Matthew Winkler’s motherÂ
My new co-authored column,Â No child custody for husband-killer Mary WinklerÂ (World Net Daily, 9/14/07), argues that Winkler got off with a slap on the wrist, is psychologically disturbed, and shouldn’t be granted custody of her three children.
No child custody for husband-killer Mary Winkler
By Glenn Sacks and Ned Holstein, M.D.
A killer shoots his spouse in the back, and then pulls the phone cord out so the victim canâ€™t call 911. As the victim slowly bleeds to death, the killer abducts their three children and flees to another state.
An Amber Alert is declared for the missing children, and the killer is hunted down by police, caught, and tried. Were the killer a man, he would be locked away for life. However, this killer is a woman, Mary Winkler. The kid gloves treatment she has received from the legal system demonstrates how courts tilt heavily in favor of women when adjudicating claims of domestic abuse.
Mary Winkler told the court that Matthew had abused her physically, sexually and emotionally. For that reason, the Selmer, Tennessee jury convicted her of voluntary manslaughter, not first degree murder.
Since the March 22, 2006 killing, Mary and Matthewâ€™s three childrenâ€”girls ages 2, 8 and 10â€”have lived with Matthewâ€™s parents, Dan and Diane Winkler. The Winkler grandparents seek to terminate Maryâ€™s parental rights and adopt the girls. Mary, who served only 67 days for the killing, wants custody of her girls, and went on Oprah this week to win public sympathy for her cause. The custody trial begins in Carroll County Chancery Court next week, and many Tennessee family law attorneys believe she has a good chance to gain custody.Â
A win for Mary would be a loss for the three girls, as well as a terrible injustice. Despite the sympathetic media Mary Winkler has received, she is a dangerous, psychologically disturbed woman who is unfit to raise her children, and whose parental rights should be terminated.
Mary Winklerâ€™s claims of abuse were largely uncorroborated during the trial. According to the testimony from Matthew Winkler’s oldest daughter, Patricia, the dead father–who as he lay dying looked at his wife and asked “why?”–was a good man, and did not abuse her mother.
Former judge and prosecutor Jeanine Pirro says the case â€œsends a terrible message about the criminal justice system, that you can commit a homicide and literally get away with it…You had a preacher, who by all accounts was loved in his community, who was shot in the back while he slept. You have a woman who says she was abused with absolutely no history, no shred of evidence.â€
At the trial, Diane Winkler, Matthew Winkler’s mother, said:
“The monster that you have painted for the world to see, I don’t think that monster existed…for everything you’ve accused him of, there never was proof, just accusations. I think that’s sad because he can’t speak for himself.”
A few of Mary Winklerâ€™s friends and family members have publicly claimed that they had previously seen indications that Mary was being abused. These witnesses will probably be out in full force during the upcoming custody case, and Matthew is unavailable to contest their version of events. It’s easy to smear a dead man.
Mary Winkler says sheâ€™s sorry for killing Matthew, but she does everything she can to portray him as a monster and herself as his meek, timid victim. Despite her protestations, she has no concept of the gravity of her crime, and claims her dead husband’s parents are mistreating her by not letting her be with her children. Her court pleading reads, “The three minor children continue to be withheld from their mother without just cause,â€ which her legal team deems â€œunconscionable.” Winkler killed the childrenâ€™s father–if that’s not “just cause” for withholding a child from a parent, what is?
In describing her crime to Oprah, Mary Winkler says she was angry at her husband and â€œjust wanted to talk to him,” and then she â€œheard a boom.â€ A more complete description of the incident would have been that she wanted to talk to him, waited until he fell asleep, retrieved the shotgun, pumped it, aimed it at his back, pulled the trigger, and then â€œheard a boom.â€ Her description of the killing was so devoid of personal responsibility that even a sympathetic Oprah didnâ€™t accept it.
Perhaps the most absurd aspect of both the trial and Oprah was the way Mary highlighted the white platform shoes which she claimed Matthew â€œmade herâ€ wear, and which she said were deeply humiliating to her. During the trial, Mary held up the shoe and bowed her head down in mock pain and shame. Oprah bought it, telling her audience that on her show â€œeverybody gasped when they saw the shoe.â€ It was up to feminist Court TV commentator Lisa Bloom, Gloria Allredâ€™s daughter, to explain to Oprah that in any “big city” people would have â€œlaughed atâ€ Maryâ€™s claims that the shoes were part of the â€œabuseâ€ she suffered.Â Bloom added:
â€œWe [at Court TV] all thought it was a first degree murder case.”
In order to win permanent custody, Dan and Diane Winkler must show that Mary Winkler poses a â€œsubstantial threat of harm to her children,â€ and that ending her parental rights is in the best interests of her children. In family court, claims of abuse in custody cases are often decided merely by the preponderance of the evidence standardâ€”if the judge believes that thereâ€™s a 51% chance one side is telling the truth, they win. Yet Mary was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not by preponderance, nor even by the clear and convincing evidence standard, but instead by the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt–the highest standard in our legal system. That alone is sufficient evidence that Winkler poses a â€œsubstantial threat of harm.â€
Mary says sheâ€™s a different and better person now, and that sheâ€™s learned important things. She told Oprah:
â€œI communicate better. I speak up when thereâ€™s something I donâ€™t like.â€
The last time Mary Winkler faced something she “didnâ€™t likeâ€ and sought to â€œcommunicate,â€ she did it with a shotgun. Is this a fit parent for three young girls?
This column first appeared in World Net Daily (9/14/07).
www.GlennSacks.com, Glenn Sacks