Winkler Guilty Of Voluntary Manslaughter - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Winkler Guilty Of Voluntary Manslaughter

Dan Winkler, Matthew's Father Dan Winkler, Matthew's Father
Daniel Winkler, Matthew's Brother Daniel Winkler, Matthew's Brother

SELMER, Tenn. - After eight hours of deliberation, the jury in Mary Winkler's murder trial returned with a verdict of guilty to the charge of voluntary manslaughter.

A charge of voluntary manslaughter carries a prison term of three to six years. Winkler will be eligible for parole after 30% of her sentence has been served.

After the verdict was read, the judge took a short break with attorneys to determine if Winkler would be out on bond pending her sentencing hearing.

Sentencing will take place May 18, 2007 at 9 a.m.

Judge Weber McCraw allowed Winkler to remain free on bond until her sentencing hearing. Bond remained set at $750,000.

The jury in Mary Winkler's murder trial began deliberations at 8:57 a.m. Thursday morning.

POLL: Do you agree with the verdict?

A jury was forced to decide if a Tennessee preacher's wife was an abused woman who accidentally shot her husband, or if she intentionally shot him in the back and left him to die in their home.

Mary Winkler testified Wednesday that her husband had abused her physically and sexually, but she said the shotgun went off accidentally as she pointed it at him. She said she had just wanted to talk to him.

Mary Winkler Timeline
 Mary Winkler Trial In Photos
 Full Trial Coverage

The prosecution called the notion of an accidental shooting "ludicrous" and urged the jury to find her guilty of first-degree murder. Jurors were began deliberations Thursday morning after six days of testimony in the case.

A charge of first-degree murder carries a maximun sentence of up to 60 years in prison, but the jury had the option of convicting Winkler, 33, to a lesser charge. 

What were the different charges against Mary Winkler?

Defense attorney Steve Farese said in his closing argument that the prosecution "absolutely, positively" did not prove Winkler intended to kill Matthew Winkler - something required for a conviction of first-degree murder. But Farese left open the possibility that she could have been guilty of a lesser crime.

"Have they proven any crime? Well - and this is hard for me to say - maybe," Farese said. "Maybe she was negligent."

Mary Winkler testified that she just wanted to talk to her husband when she went into their bedroom that day in March 2006, but that she was too terrified. "He just could be so mean," she said.

Winkler said her husband had punched her in the face, kicked her at times, refused to grant her a divorce and forced her to perform sex acts she thought were unnatural. Shortly before the shooting, he had also held his hand over their 1-year-old daughter's mouth and nose to make her be quiet, she said.

But Winkler also said under cross-examination that her husband did "nothing" for which he deserved to die.

Mary Winkler's depiction of her marriage was at odds with the description by the prosecution, whose witnesses described Matthew Winkler as a good father and husband. The couple's 9-year-old daughter, Patricia, testified that she never saw him mistreat her mother.

A day after Matthew Winkler, 31, was fatally shot in his back, his wife was arrested 340 miles away on the Alabama coast, driving the family minivan with their three young daughters.

Mary Winkler said she planned to return to Selmer but wanted time alone with her daughters. She also said she still loved her husband.

A psychologist testified that Mary Winkler could not have formed the intent to commit a crime because of her compromised mental condition. She suffered from mild depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which started at age 13 when her sister died and worsened as she endured her husband's abuse, Dr. Lynne Zager said.

Mary Winkler said she remembered holding the gun that day but not getting it from the closet. She said she heard a "boom," but said she did not pull the trigger, prompting prosecutor Walt Freeland to ask whether she understood how a trigger worked.

"You know that pulling a trigger is what makes it go boom?" Freeland asked.

"Yes, sir," Mary Winkler replied.

The prosecution said in closing arguments that there was no medical evidence of abuse. Mary Winkler had testified that she was too ashamed to tell anyone. The two had met at Freed-Hardeman University, a Church of Christ-affiliated school in Henderson where Matthew's father was an adjunct professor and Mary took education classes.

Farese, the defense attorney, said: "If you look up spousal abuse in the dictionary, you're going to see Mary Winkler's picture looking back at you."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

2007 Headlines
4/19 Winkler Jury Deliberates
4/19 Possible Charges Against Mary Winkler
4/18 Defense Says Preacher Terrorized Winkler Family
4/17 Winkler Daughter Called To Witness Stand

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

4/11 Jury Seated In Mary Winkler Trial
4/11 Witness Lists Released In Winkler Trial
4/11 Jury Selection Begins In Winkler Trial
4/04 Mary Winkler Charged With Husband's Death

3/19 Mary Winkler Asks For Custody Of Children
3/28 Family Of Slain Minister Sues Mary Winkler
3/22 Selmer Braces For Winkler Murder Trial
Prosecutor Not Seeking Death For Winkler

2/23 Winkler Trial Date Set
Mary Winkler Appears In Court
Mary Winkler Spied Out And About On New Year's
Mary Winkler's Story Continues Through Glamour

2006 Headlines
12/18 Wife Of Slain Pastor Living Quiet Life In McMinnville
Mary Winkler's Bosses Give Her A Chance
Winkler's Sisters Speak Out
Top Stories Of 2006: Minister's Wife

9/27 Judge Lets Minister's Wife's Confession Stand
Preacher's Wife Asks For Statement To Be Thrown Out
Mary Winkler Released From Jail On Bond
Minister's Wife Expected to Post Bond Friday

9/18 Preacher's Wife Remains Behind Bars

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
Mary Winkler Spied Out And About On New Year's
12/29/2007 Year In Review: Wife Kills Minister Husband

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