Background: In June 2006, Darren Mack (pictured), a wealthy Nevada father who was involved in a divorce, stabbed his estranged wife to death and then executed a well-planned murder attempt on a Nevada judge. MackÂ shot and wounded the judge but failed to kill him.Â According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, when police searched Mack’sÂ residence they found he “had bombmaking materials in his bedroom” as well as “several boxes of firearm ammunition.”Â At the time of Mackâ€™s murder spree, I wrote:
â€œI condemn without qualification the crimes allegedly committed by Darren Mack in Nevada last week. Mack was angered by his divorce and custody case. Some on the not insubstantial lunatic fringe of the fathers’ rights movement see Mack as some sort of freedom fighter. Most of the commentary by other fathers’ rights advocates seem to be of the â€˜he couldn’t take it anymore and snappedâ€™ variety.
â€œI don’t buy it. Though everyone is focusing on Mack’s attempted murder of a judge, everyone seems to forget that he first stabbed and killed his ex-wife. After murdering her, he shot the judge through the judge’s third-floor office window with a sniper rifle from over 100 yards away. That’s not â€˜snappingâ€™–that’s premeditated murder. Mack is not a good man trapped in a bad system. He is a bad guy. Because of men like him the system had to create protections for women, and unscrupulous women have misused those protections to victimize countless innocent men. Men like Mack aren’t the byproducts of the system’s problems–they are the problem.â€
My remarks caused some controversy within the fathers’ right movement–to learn more, click here.
From the description of the opening arguments in Darren Mack’s trial from the Associated Press (Lawyer: Reno man killed wife in self-defense, spun into delusions, 10/24/07), it appears that Mack’s defense team is employing what I’ll call the “Mary Winkler Defense.”
(Mary Winkler shot her husband in the back and then refused to aid him or call 911 as he slowly bled to death for 20 minutes. She claimed–with little corroborating evidence–that she was a battered wife who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome because of her husband’s violence towards her. She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and walked away a free woman in September after serving a farcically brief ‘sentence’ for her crimes. To learn more aboutÂ this injustice, see my co-authored column No child custody for husband-killer Mary WinklerÂ (World Net Daily, 9/14/07), or click here.)
Darren Mack’s defense is very Winkleresque:
1) Both Mary Winkler and Darren Mack are trying to escape punishment for their crimes by trashing their victims (Matthew Winkler/Charla Mack). Yet in both cases we have no evidence that either victim did anything wrong. Mary Winkler claimed–with no corroboration–that she decided to “confront” Matthew after he tried to harm their baby. Mack says he stabbed Charla after Charla pointed a gun at him. In both cases the defense’s claim is possible, and in neither case is it likely.
2) Both Mary Winkler and Darren Mack want to convince us that their murdered spouses had histories of violence when little evidence of such history exists. Winkler claimed her husband had battered and abused her for a decade, but produced little substantiation of her claims. In the Mack case, according to the Associated Press, “The defense would point to several instances in which Charla Mack, who he said was trained in Tae Kwan Do, physically attacked her husband…Mack had begun to carry a knife with him after a psychic and family member warned him ‘you can’t turn your back on Charla, she will stab you with a knife,’ [co-counsel Scott] Freeman said.”
3) Each give highly implausible descriptions of how they committed their crimes but somehowÂ weren’t at fault. 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€
In the Mack case, according to the Associated Press:
“One the day of her death, Charla Mack attacked her husband from behind after dropping off her daughter, he said. In the scuffle, a pistol fell from Darren Mack’s pocket. Charla Mack picked it up, and pointed it at her husband as the two wrestled on the ground. The pistol misfired, Freeman said, and Mack instinctively pulled out a knife he also was carrying.
“‘Darren plunges the knife into her neck once,’ Freeman told the jury. ‘Charla’s violence has stopped.’”
Then, according to the AP:
“That’s when Mack drew up the list on the notepad, and began to spiral into delusion, the defense said. A longtime marksman, Mack drove to a parking garage across from the courthouse and shot the judge. ‘He was basically on autopilot,’ [Mack's lawyer David] Chesnoff said.”
4) In both cases, the defendants portray their victims as being some sort of sexual deviants. In the Winkler trial, one of the main instances of “abuse” she said she suffered was that Matthew allegedly made her wear an unusual pair of white high heels. In Mack’s case, according to the AP:
“[Charla Mack] had ‘an unusual sexual appetite’ that involved swingers clubs, various partners and drug use, he said.”
In conclusion, a word of advice to Darren Mack–the Winkler-style defense only works for women. It shouldn’t have worked for Winkler, but it did. It shouldn’t work for you, and it won’t.
www.GlennSacks.com, Glenn Sacks