Defense Says Preacher Terrorized Winkler Family - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Defense Says Preacher Terrorized Winkler Family

Mary Winkler listens to testimony from Forensic Psychologist Lynne Zager Mary Winkler listens to testimony from Forensic Psychologist Lynne Zager
Forensic Psychologist Lynne Zager Forensic Psychologist Lynne Zager
Mary Winkler's family members Mary Winkler's family members
Mary Winkler's family members Mary Winkler's family members
Dan and Diane Winkler, Matthew's parents Dan and Diane Winkler, Matthew's parents

(AP) SELMER, Tenn. - Attorneys for a preacher's wife on trial in her husband's killing began calling witnesses Tuesday to try to show that the minister was an abusive, controlling and angry man.

Prosecution witnesses have described Matthew Winkler, a 31-year-old preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in this west Tennessee town, as a good father and husband. But the defense says he terrorized his family and criticized his wife's every move.

Full Trial Coverage
Day 5 Slideshow
Day 5 Timeline
Mary Winkler Timeline
Send your comments or questions to

Matthew Winkler was found dead in the parsonage in March 2006, and Mary Winkler was arrested the next day on the Alabama coast 340 miles away, driving in the family minivan with her three young daughters. She could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

One defense witness testified he saw Mary Winkler with a black eye in 2003, when Matthew Winkler was youth minister at a church in McMinnville, about 65 miles southeast of Nashville.

Rudolph Otto Thompsen III, who let Mary Winkler live with his family while she was free on bond, said Mary explained that she was playing with her girls and one of them accidentally hit her in the eye.

That didn't strike Thompsen as suspicious, and the defense offered no proof that Matthew Winkler gave his wife a black eye. But Thompsen said Mary Winkler's behavior often changed around her husband.

"She was bubbly, grinning and cutting up with everyone and then Matthew walked in," Thompsen said. "It was like you'd thrown a switch. Her head went down, her hands went together."

The church secretary in McMinnville, Lori Boyd, testified that Matthew Winkler seemed nice at first but became demanding and cruel, treating other church staff members as "people lower than him."

Another defense witness, Jimmy Jones of McMinnville, said Matthew Winkler once screamed at him and his family in 2003 because he said a barking dog kept him awake all night.

"He began to shout and raised his arms and was basically out of control," Jones said. "You couldn't reason with him."

Prosecutors rested their case Monday after the heartbreaking testimony of the couple's 9-year-old daughter.

When the prosecutor asked Patricia Winkler to state her name and birthdate, she looked over at her mother, Mary Winkler, and began sobbing.

But a few minutes later, Patricia kept her composure as she recalled how she heard a "big boom" come from her parents' room on the morning that her father was shot. She said she ran to their room and saw her father face-down on the floor.

Patricia testified Matthew Winkler was a good father and she never saw him mistreat her mother.

Last week, prosecutors played an audiotape in which Mary Winkler acknowledges shooting her husband, telling investigators her "ugly came out." But she also said her husband had threatened her.

She told Tennessee authorities that her husband criticized her for "the way I walk, what I eat, everything. It was just building up to this point. I was just tired of it. I guess I just got to a point and snapped."

The defense has said Mary Winkler, 33, intended to hold her husband at gunpoint only to force him to talk about his personal problems after a situation involving their 1-year-old daughter, Breanna. The defense did not describe the situation.

Defense attorneys have also called the shooting accidental.

The prosecution has said the Winklers were in financial trouble and that bank managers were closing in on a check-kiting scheme that Mary Winkler wanted to conceal from her husband.

Defense attorney Leslie Ballin has hinted Mary Winkler could testify.

(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

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.