The following is a timeline for the first day of the murder trial for Mary Winkler, who is accused of fatally shooting her preacher husband Matthew Winkler in his sleep. The shooting took place in the parsonage of Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, a West Tennessee town.
6:28:00 - COURT IS IN RECESS FOR THE NIGHT
6:26:32 - Long testifies the phone in the hotel is found in the same position as the phone in the Winkler's home in Selmer.
6:21:23 - Long testifies about the van and how it was searched in Alabama. Long testified it is the policy of his department to inventory everything in an impounded vehicle.
6:15:11 - Photos of Winkler's hotel room in Alabama - shows the phone was unplugged and on the floor.
6:05:20 - Long testifies the police car camera was pointed away from Mary Winkler - the stop was caught on audio. Long continues testifying about the stop & the subsequent arrest.
5:55:05 - Prosecution calls Travis Long - a police officer from Orange Beach, Alabama. Long testifies he was there when Winkler was stopped. Long says he placed Winkler in the back of his police car. He read her her Miranda rights. Says she was very concerned that her kids got food. Long then transported Winkler to the Orange Beach police department.
5:53:00 - Whitlock steps down
5:48:28 - Jason Whitlock is cross-examined by the defense. Farese asks whether the scene was chaotic. Whitlock says yes - some people might say the police were yelling. He testifies Winkler did everything she was asked at the scene. He testified that Ms. Winkler had said the kids needs to get something to eat. He says Winkler was worried about her kids needing something to eat - she was not worried about herself.
5:29:40 - BREAK
5:12:04 - Jason Whitlock sits down on the stand. Whitlock is a police officer in Orange Beach, Alabama. He identified and pulled over Mary Winkler's van in Orange Beach. When she pulled over, there were 4 police vehicles on the scene. He had his gun out, and ordered her to walk backwards toward the patrol car with her hands behind her head. They handcuffed her at the patrol car. In court, he identifies the driver as Mary Winkler. He says she had kind of a blank stare, and she didn't seem to be questioning his stop at all. But, she did not appear to be upset or distraught.
Whitlock did not observe Officer Travis Long reading Mary Winkler her Miranda Rights. Over an objection, the judge allows the prosecution to ask Officer Whitlock if one of the girls told him anything about what had happened. He says yes.
Officer Whitlock identifies a voluntary statement he recorded the night they took Mary Winkler into custody. He reads it to himself, and remembers that he did see Officer Long speaking to Mary Winkler, and that could have been him telling her the Miranda Rights.
5:10:02 - Rickman leaves the stand
5:08:30 - Defense asks if Rickman knows for sure there were never any police calls to the house, or just if he doesn't know of any personally. He says he never went on any calls to that house. Ballin asks if the fact the police weren't called means there wasn't any domestic violence offenses at the house. Rickman says he has no idea.
5:07:50 - Assistant DA Walt Freeland redirects. Rickman says there were no police calls to the Winkler's address in regards to domestic violence.
4:52:50 - Defense attorney Leslie Ballin begins questioning Roger Rickman. His first questions focus on whether or not Rickman learned to take notes and knows the importance of getting things right.
Rickman says he did not search the Winkler home, but the home was searched. Cash was lying in plain view in the bedroom (17:00:40) on the dresser in a money clip along with his driver's license.
Rickman got the call at 21:40 (9:40 pm). Ballin asks if the police got there at 7:22, and Rickman says there is a typographical error on the report with regards to time. He wrote the report about 2 weeks later - he's very busy and had other duties to take care of, and he said his part of the report was very small. Ballin asked what was so important to him that he couldn't write down the facts earlier than 2 weeks after it happened. Rickman said he's the only investigator Selmer has, and he didn't forget anything that he's aware of before he wrote it down.
Ballin asks Rickman about the photo of the family, and he asks if Rickman knows how it ended up in the monthly magazines - like People. Rickman says he does not know.
4:43 - Prosecution is showing photographs of the crime scene. Rickman testifies Mary & the 3 kids were missing. The local medical examiner rolled Matthew over and said he had a gunshot wound to the back.
Anytime there is a suspicious death, policy is to contact TBI. Rickman says he contacted John Maher at the TBI. Chris Carpenter & Mike Frizzell came to the scene from the TBI. Rickman said Agent Frizzell collected a family portrait from the house so they could issue the Amber Alert for Mary and the kids. They scanned it in Rickman's office and sent it to the TBI as an attachment to an e-mail.
4:31 - Prosecution calls Roger Rickman - investigator with the Selmer Police Department. Rickman testifies how he found Winkler at the scene. Prosecution shows pictures of Winkler the night he was killed.
4:26 - Farese asks if the woman at the church has ever been abused? Eason says he doesn't think so.
4:21 - Eason re-direct by Walt Freeland - Eason testifies the Winkler home is owned by the church. Freeland asks about the records - how did they get messed up? Eason says it was accidental. Eason says several people have access to his records - Eason says the mix-up was accidental. Eason says he would not prescribe high-doses of hydrocodone to a pregnant woman. Eason is asked about a secretary at the church.
4:21 - Eason testifies it would have been worse if Mathew had written a bad check.
4:18 - Eason testifies he does not remember telling the police that Mary wrote a bad check. Eason says another church member told him about the bad check. Eason says if Mary was writing bad checks it would have reflected badly on the church & on her husband.
4:10 - Farese said the police report states they found Matthew Winkler at 19:22 (7:22 pm), but Eason says it was more like 10:00 pm.
Farese asks Eason if he's ever heard Wilbur Gene Ashe speak of Mary Winkler, and he asks if he would consider Ashe to be a supporter of Mary Winkler. It was withdrawn.
Farese asks Eason if he'd agree that no one really knows what goes on with a family behind close doors....Eason agrees "to some degree." Eason says he did not know everything that was going on in the Winkler household. He said Matthew was the head of the family, but he wouldn't call him a "controller" of the family.
3:53 - Eason says the records from that swollen jaw visit were misfiled - they were placed in Mary Alice's file (middle daughter) and not in Mary Carol's (the mom). Farese says he is surprised that Eason remembers he thought it was caused by an infected tooth - when Eason was asked at an earlier hearing - he said he didn't remember treating Mary Winkler.
Dr. Eason says the only reason the church thinks someone should get a divorce is because of adultery. But, he goes on to say they don't expect people to live under certain situations. Dr. Eason says the Church of Christ believes for someone to have an acceptable divorce and to get remarried, the only reason for the divorce would have to be adultery.
Dr. Eason says he and Matthew were good friends. They were on a first name basis, Matthew had his cell phone number, and they went deep sea fishing on occasion.
Dr. Eason said they went into the house when Matthew didn't show up for church instead of calling the police because they didn't think anything bad had happened.
3:45 - Eason is cross-examined by Steve Farese. Eason says he was not only a friend - he was also the family doctor. Eason says sometimes he sees people at the church. Eason says he treated Mary for a swollen jaw. Thought it was the result of an infected tooth.
3:44 - Eason is asked whether he ever talked to Matthew about domestic violence issues - he says no. Eason is asked whether he has a good pulse on what's going on at the church - he says yes.
3:40 - What did you notice about his body? He was ashen gray - his nose and mouth were obstructed. It was clear he wasn't breathing. They didn't notice any apparent wounds - he was cold to the touch. They called 911 and said a prayer.
3:36 - Eason testifies that Winkler didn't show up for Wednesday night church services. Eason says that was unusual. Eason says he tried to get in the house a little after 8pm that night. Found some keys, they didn't work - finally found the right set of keys and were able to get into the house a little after 9pm. We found Matthew in the bedroom - Randi Smith found him - Matthew was lying on the floor. This was the martial bedroom - he was on the floor on his back. He was dressed in pajamas. He was dead.
3:32 - Prosecution calls Dr. Andrew Eason - the family doctor and fellow church member in Selmer. Eason helped to hire Matthew Winkler. Eason checked references at the Bellevue Church of Christ - not McMinnville. Eason talks about the duties of a church elder.
3:31 - Broadway is dismissed
3:29 - Leslie Ballin cross-examines Kacey Broadway about Mary's demeanor that day at school. Kacey says Winkler was upset but may not have been mad because she couldn't hear what she was saying on the phone. Kacey says Mary was quiet and reserved - says Mary was crying that day.
3:20 - Prosecution calls Kacey Michelle Broadway - a former teacher's assistant at Selmer Elementary. Broadway talks about working with Winkler at the school on March 21st. Broadway says Winkler spent the day on her cell phone pacing back and forth - says Winkler looked upset.
2:47:55 - Court takes a break - McCraw asks if Mr. Winkler would be used as a rebuttal witness.
2:57:35 - Dan Winkler is excused from the witness box.
2:56:00 - Farese asks when his (Farese's) sister comes on the case on Mary Winkler's behalf. Farese asks if Winkler has any personal problem with Mary seeing her children. Before he can answer - he thinks about it - the question is withdrawn.
2:55:36 - another sidebar
2:51:40 - Farese asks more questions. Winkler said the children were in his custody when he saw the children's photos in publications. He said a picture of the children taken at his father's funeral has been in many publications, but he doesn't know how it got there. Winkler says he's had concerns because he's received information about Mary Winkler possibly selling photographs. But, he has no personal proof of that. There was some discussion about what the children possibly told a youth court judge.
2:51:16 - Freeland leaves the podium.
2:49:20 - Walt Freeland re-directs with more questions for Dan Winkler. Winkler says everything they did was in the bounds of the recommendations of the therapist.
2:44:35 - Questioning resumes. Farese asks if Mary had another scheduled visit in October.
Winkler said Mary got to see the children for 2 hours during the September visitation. He and his wife set the visit up. Winkler later says that the counselor recommended the duration of 2 hours for the visit.
Winkler said Mary was writing her children letters, but he was holding them back so the children could develop emotionally as the therapist recommended. He said they were letting her phone calls through to the children. Winkler says the agreement was a letter one week, and a phone call on Tuesday. He says they set up the agreement with Mary while she was still in jail in Selmer.
Farese says, "Nothing further," and leaves the podium.
2:43:40 - Objection, and a sidebar
2:37:29- there is some down time; Winkler asks for some water; defense talks among themselves
2:32:30 - Testimony begins again; Farese asked Dan Winkler what "persona of Mary" means to him. He says, "The way she's perceived." Winkler does somewhat agree with Farese that if she's seen with her children, she would be seen as a loving mother.
Winkler says he doesn't recall the exact words about asking someone to have Mary's contact with the children "ratcheted down." Then the 2 debated about the questions Farese was asking - he asked when the last time was that Mary has seen her children. (14:36:10).Mary has not seen her children since October; they agreed that the last time she saw them was in September 2006. Then there was some heated discussion over how often the defense requested visitation with the children.
2:30:30 - another sidebar
2:29:50 - Farese returns to the podium and says he has a few more questions. He asks for the name of Ms. Crawford's group ("Agape" is the name of her counseling group). Winkler says it is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Betty Prichard and Beth Guess are two friends who supervised visitation with Mary and the children. Winkler then described making preparations for visitation with Mary. He says he saw the children run to their mother, but he did not see them jump into their arms.
2:24:50 - Farese continues questioning Dan Winkler. Winkler acknowledges his signature on a document about the discovery of the tackle box.
Steve Farese asks if Winkler is aware of a counselor named Diana L. Crawford. Winkler picked the counselor for the children. Farese asks if Winkler asked the counselor to "ratchet down" the contact between the children & Mary Winkler. Dan Winkler says those were not his words - they were the district attorney's words. The reason for it was the danger of trying this case in the media. Farese says he thought the danger was if Mary was seen with her children, she'd been perceived as a loving mother.
2:19:40 - Attorneys approach the bench
2:10 - Farese asks Winkler about retrieving Mary's van in Alabama. Mary signed over custody of the van so Mr. Winkler could drive the children back to Tennessee. Winkler says he didn't know the van was part of a murder investigation. Winkler says he found an orange tackle box full of shotgun shells when cleaning out the van a few weeks later. Winkler called the district attorney and the TBI came to pick them up.
2:08 - Farese asks if there are women preachers in the Church of Christ? Winkler says no. Prosecution objects.
2:06 - Farese asks who in the Church of Christ is the head of the household? Winkler answers the man is the head of the house. The Bible says the husband is the one that sets the direction of the household.
2:00- Assistant District Attorney Steve Farese asked Dan Winkler if he wanted Mary not to have any dreams or money or future. Winkler said no - but he doesn't think she should have the kids right now.
2:55- There was a discussion on an "agreed order of temporary custody" document. Dan Winkler said he didn't think the custody issue was just temporary - until Mary's case was resolved. Winkler said he thought he would have custody until the court decided otherwise. Winkler said he has no recollection seeing an email between his lawyer and Mr. Farese.
1:43- The defense's cross-examination of Dan Winkler continues. He testifed how he and his wife hired an attorney to get custody of the children.
12:33- Lunch break. Trial expected to resume at 1:30 p.m.
12:31- Farese asked if Mary was constantly trying to see the children. He said no. They start talking about the wrongful death suit.
12:28:23- Winkler is asked why he took the kids to Disney World over spring break instead of letting them see their mother. They also asked why he used money from the kids' trust fund to take that trip.
12:14:38- Winkler's father discusses Winkler's bizarre behavior when he was on certain medications. Winkler says he told the then-District Attorney Elizabeth Rice about this son's adverse reaction sometime after the murder. Winkler says he talked to the district attorney after reading an article in the newspaper. Winkler again recounts what happened when his son was given strong prescription drugs. The first time he locked Mary out of the house b/c he thought someone was trying to kill him. Farese asks why this information is no where in the record. In Orange Beach, Mary didn't ask for forgiveness or say she was sorry. He testified his son was 5 feet 11 inches tall; Farese argued he was 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 240 pounds.
12:06:25- Defense begins cross-examination of Dan Winkler
12:05:24- Prosecution has nothing further
11:40:30 - Prosecution calls the first witness Dan Winkler, Matthew Winkler's father. He is a preacher at the Huntingdon Church of Christ. The defense attorney said that Matthew Winkler was a fourth-generation preacher and his father said Matthew was a fifth-generation minister. Dan Winkler was in Gatlinburg with his wife when he heard the news about Matthew. When they got to Orange Beach, he asked Mary if he could visit with her, and he spoke to her under supervision of a law officer. He said, "I'm so sorry for all of this." She said nothing. He told her he wished they could take the handcuffs off her so he could give her a big bear hug.
When asked about forgiveness, Winkler said forgiveness is something that comes -- according to his beliefs -- when the individual comes with a broken and contrite spirit and the individual asks for forgiveness. He couldn't grant forgiveness at that time, but he was willing to extend it.
He and his wife got custody of the children that Saturday after the shooting.
March 22 is the day of the murder and Dan Winkler's birthday. It was noted on a dry erase board in Matthew Winkler's house.
On Christmas 2005, the Winklers were in Gatlinburg to get away from the house (since his father had just died a few months before). He offered to pay for half of a cabin for Matthew and Mary if they wanted to come with them. One evening, they were playing dominoes, and reference was made to 2 occasions when Matthew had taken pharmaceuticals - one for a toothache, and the other was for a stomach problem. He had adverse reactions to both of them. During these reactions, he thought someone was trying to kill him. He locked Mary out of the house. The other time, he was hallucinating (this was when he was in McMinnville) and was thinking that someone was trying to harm him. During these references, Mary was very flippant and light - it was a situation that was laughed off when discussed.
Had a discussion with Matthew about finances in March in Mary's presence (just before his death). Matthew and Mary were discussing their plans - he had just enrolled in a master's program at Freed-Hardeman University, and she was already a student there. He told his dad that - in reference to their finances - Mary was going to finish her schooling in December, and then they're going to take the money that she makes and first pay off the van they just bought, then the school loans, and then they'll be debt-free. She was silent during the conversation.
The children are in therapy. They appear to be doing incredibly well.
He discusses the lawsuit in which he is suing Mary on behalf of the children. His testimony is not affected by the money he hopes to get out of that lawsuit.
Mary ran the finances in the household. When asked if that was a conscious decision, Dan started telling this story: Several years ago, Matthew was in a car accident in Nashville. A lady under the influence ran in to their car. They reached a financial settlement and as he talked, there was an objection so he ended the story.
Dan Winkler was not aware of any abuse of Mary by Matthew. He said he never witnessed any abuse by Matthew.
11:40:10 - Jury comes back in, court resumes
11:20:10- McCraw announces a 10-minute break.
10:47- Defense attorney Steve Farese said Matthew Winkler asked Mary to marry him after three months of dating. Farese described the minister as charismatic but that he "would destroy objects that she loved. He would isolate her from her family and he would abuse her. Not just verbally. Not just emotionally. Not just physically, but in other ways, too. And this was constant. And she lived a life that she walked on eggshells."
10:46:17- Defense attorney Steve Farese said Matthew and Mary only dated three months before they were married. Farese said Matthew would destroy objects she loved, he would isolate her from her family, and he would abuse her - not just verbally, emotionally, and physically, but in other ways, too. It was constant. And, he said Matthew was wrestling with his demons as well.
Farese talked about the great and traumatic loss of Mary's younger sister Patricia and how much Mary loved her, even though she had several handicaps.
Farese said Mary didn't know anything about guns, but Matthew had pointed a gun at her many times before. She was standing on pillows on the floor as she was holding the gun, and the gun discharged. He says, "Was it an accident? She'll tell the truth." After it discharged, she didn't know Matthew had been hit. She left (thinking he was after her), but then she realized no one was after her. So, she goes back inside, checks on the kids, and returns to the bedroom to see Matthew lying on the floor.
Farese said there was no premeditation and no planning, so there will be no proof of it. And now the prosecution is trying to use her own daughter against her. They've "turned that love into hate."
10:43- Assistant District Attorney Walt Freeland objects to defense attorney Steve Farese's reference to the Winklers' daughter. Attorneys approach the bench.
10:42- Assistant District Attorney Walt Freeland ends his opening statement.
10:13:06- Assistant District Attorney Walt Freeland gives the prosecution's opening statement. He starts with the word "Why," which he says was Matthew Winkler's last word. He says there was no reason Matthew Winkler was murdered by Mary Winkler.
10:12:16- Judge tells all potential witnesses that they must stay outside the courtroom during the trial
10:11- A quick sidebar
10:10:54 - Defense attorney Steve Farese enters a "not guilty" plea for Mary Winkler
10:10 - Assistant District Attorney Walt Freeland reads the indictment against Mary Winkler
10:03:45 - sidebar
9:50:50 - McCraw explains what will happen in the courtroom (opening statements, presentation of evidence, etc.) and tells the jury what they must use to make their decision in the case. He suggests they ask themselves several questions when hearing from witnesses, including the following: Did the person impress you as honest? Did he/she have any reason not to tell the truth? He also explained the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. He also reminded the jury that they can't talk to any defendant, lawyer, or witness during the trial, and they can't talk to each other about things in the case until it's time to do so. And, they can't try to gather any information on their own. Everything they will need to decide the case will be in the courtroom.
9:50:30 - Jurors sworn in
9:49:30 - Jury enters, sits down, and judge begins
9:43ish - Judge comes in, calls for immediate sidebar
4/14 Bank Employees Discuss Winkler Financial Problems
4/14 Jurors, Winkler Listen To Taped Interview
4/14 Angry Caller Prompts Increased Trial Security
4/13 Third Day For Jury Selection In Winkler Trial
04/19/2007 Winkler Defense Team As Jury Begins Deliberating
04/19/2007 Winkler Jury Begins Deliberations
04/18/2007 Analysis of Morning Session In Winkler Trial Day 6
04/16/2007 Winkler Daughter Called To Witness Stand
04/14/2007 Highlights From Day 3 In Mary Winkler Trial
04/14/2007 Angry Caller Prompts Increased Trial Security
02/03/2007 Mary Winkler Spied Out And About On New Year's
12/29/2007 Year In Review: Wife Kills Minister Husband