Murderess Mary Winkler–who shot her husband in the back and then refused to aid him or call 911 as he slowly bled to death for 20 minutes–walked away a free woman this week after serving a farcically brief “sentence” for her crimes.
Winkler scammed the court with uncorroborated claims that Matthew (pictured with his wife and three daughters) abused her. According to the testimony from Matthew Winkler’s nine-year-old daughter, Patricia, the dead father–who as he lay dying looked at his wife and asked “why?”–was a good man and did not abuseÂ her mother.
Winkler at first claimed the shooting was an accident and that she panicked, but after her arrest, she switched to the “abused woman” defenseÂ that killer women employ so effectively. There was no evidence or corroboration of her abuse claims, but the jury found her guilty of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. After her conviction, she served a mere week in prison, then two months in a mental health facility. She will serve three years of probation.
According to CNN, before Mary Winkler killed her husband Matthew she “told Tennessee authorities about losing $17,000 in what investigators have described as a ‘Nigerian 419′ check-kiting scam.” Matthew was unaware of it, and theÂ day he was killed they had an appointment with one of the banks. At this meeting Matthew would have been made aware of her actions. Mary was nervous about being discovered, and chose to murder her husband instead.
During the trial, Mary threw trash on the dead man, who was unable to defend himself. She now plans to fight for custody of their three children, who have been living with Matthew Winkler’s parents. Matthew’s parents have filed court papers seeking to terminate her parental rights. As outrageous as it is, I think Winkler could get custody–murderess Clara Harris did (see my column Convicted Murderess Can Get Custody but Decent Fathers Can’t, Houston Chronicle, 9/19/03). The CNN article on the case is below.
(CNN) — After spending a total of seven months in custody, the Tennessee woman who fatally shot her preacher husband in the back was released on Tuesday, her lawyer told CNN.
Mary Winkler, a 33-year-old mother of three girls, was freed from a Tennessee mental health facility where she was treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, lawyer Steve Farese said.
“She is out,” Farese said.
Farese said his client will not talk to the news media because she continues to wage a legal battle to win custody of her girls and faces a $2 million civil suit filed by the parents of her slain husband, Matthew Winkler.
Except for her oldest daughter’s brief testimony at her trial, Winkler hasn’t seen her children in a year, the lawyer said.
Winkler will return to work at the dry cleaners in McMinnville, Tennessee, where she worked before the trial, Farese said. She is living with friends.
Winkler served about five months in county jail as she awaited trial, then spent two months undergoing therapy at the mental health facility following her conviction for voluntary manslaughter.
Winkler never denied shooting her husband, Matthew, the popular new preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, a town of 4,500 people about 80 miles east of Memphis.
On March 22, 2006, church elders found his body — with a shotgun wound to the back — in the bedroom of the parsonage after he failed to show up for an evening service. His wife was arrested the next day with the couple’s three young daughters in Orange Beach, Alabama, on the Gulf coast.
Mary Winkler was charged with murder, which could have sent her to prison for up to 60 years, but a jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter following an emotional trial in which she testified about suffering years of verbal and physical abuse.
In a statement to police after her arrest, Winkler said she didn’t recall pulling the trigger .She said she apologized and wiped the blood that bubbled from her dying husband’s lips as he asked, “Why?”
Prosecutors and Matthew Winkler’s family members said he was a good husband and father.
But on the stand, Mary Winkler described a hellish 10-year marriage during which, she said, her husband struck her, screamed at her, criticized her and blamed her when things went wrong. She said he made her watch pornography and wear “slutty” costumes for sex, and that he forced her to submit to sex acts that made her uncomfortable.
She testified she pointed the shotgun at her husband during an argument to force him to talk through their problems, and “something went off.”
A defense psychologist testified that she was depressed and showed classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mary Winkler initially received a three-year sentence in June. But Circuit Court Judge J. Weber McCraw required that she serve only 210 days, and allowed her to serve the rest of the time on probation.
She also received credit for five months she spent behind bars awaiting trial, which left only about 60 days to her sentence. McCraw ruled she could serve the time in a mental health facility.
Since Mary Winkler’s arrest, the couple’s three children have been cared for by Matthew Winkler’s parents, who have filed court papers seeking to terminate her parental rights.
Â www.GlennSacks.com, Glenn Sacks