Why is Mary Winkler free?

Posted by: ST on August 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

Is this an example of justice served? I think not:

(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.


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.

I want you to imagine the situations reversed, where the man went through emotional and physical abuse for years from a dominating wife and then one day just snapped and killed her. Do you think the justice system would have shown as much leniency for him? It sounds like Mary Winkler went through hell (assuming what she testified to was true) but that is no excuse for her only serving seven months (67 days to be exact) in police custody for the murder of her husband.

Now she’s getting ready to return to her old job, and wants custody of her kids again, almost as smoothly as if she had never fired a shot.

Tammy Bruce writes:

I remember to good ol’ days when a normal person’s response to things like that would be called “getting a divorce.” Men, of course, usually don’t have the luxury of using the “she deserved it” excuse to get away with murder, but I’m sure we’re not too far away from days like that if we continue on this path. It’s possible to reverse the moral relativism gripping our society, but we’ve got to reverse the left’s impact on the academy, the media, and the justice system. Tall orders, I know, but the future of our nation is worth it.


Cross-posted at Carol Platt Liebau’s blog, where I am guest-blogging this week.

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  • 17 Responses to “Why is Mary Winkler free?”


    1. Great post I totally agree with what you’ve written. I will never be able to understand how poor little Mary got out after 2 months for murdering her husband, her life partner, this man was murdered in cold blood by the one person in life whom he trusted with his life…while Genarlow Wilson is still sitting in prison serving a 10 year sentence for letting a girl perform a sex act on him…Face it everyone…the American Justice system is failing. I’ll let you figure out why.

      I am waiting to see what happens to the Muslim woman who killed her husband in Philidelphia. I am almost certain that it will be just another example of the fact that white women in this country are still calling the shots. She will go to prison for the rest of her life for committing the same crime poor little Mary did. Only she’s black and Mary’s white.

    2. Leslie says:

      Quite frankly (and this is without hearing any of the testimony at the trial), this sentence strikes me as appropriate.

      When there’s a case when a man shoots an abusive wife under these same conditions, let me know and we can revisit this.

      I’m not holding my breath.


    3. Leslie, essentially this was a “he deserved it sentence” and even if you never hear of a case of a man shooting a woman due to similar circumstances, you know there have been rape cases out there where a defense attorneys use the ‘she deserved it’ defense, talking about the woman’s sex life, how much she was drinking, how she was dressed, as if that’s somehow supposed to excuse the crime. The ‘she deserved it’ defense almost never works in a rape case, and the ‘he deserved it’ defense shouldn’t have worked here.

    4. Baklava says:

      You don’t shoot your husband if he is abusive, you divorce him.

      Mary broke one of the most important rules of weapons. Don’t point a weapon at anything that you don’t have an intention of shooting. She ADMITTED pointing it at him just to try to get him (control freakish) to talk something over.

      Maybe she realized at that point he would GET THE KIDS because of of her actions. In the divorce process this information would come out and she would be deemed unfit to be a mom much more than supervised visits….

    5. Steve Skubinna says:

      I’m curious – is there any evidence that the husband actually was abusive, aside from the self interested testimony by his murderer?

    6. Baklava says:

      Seems she was the control freak Steve…. they probably both were abusive to each other.

      My ex-wife in order to get me “see” her convoluted point of view would hold a knife to her chest.

      Control freaks come in all shapes and sizes and genders.

      She played that jury like a drum…

    7. Leslie says:


      Do you know what evidence was introduced at the trial to demonstrate how abusive the husband was?

      And by the way, no, I certainly do NOT approve of the “she deserved it” excuse in rape trials.


    8. Hi Leslie,

      I don’t know what all evidence was presented at the trial, but I do know that her family has appeared on TV before and talked about some of the abuse she is alleged to have gone through. I went on the basis of assuming for purposes of discussion that even if it was true, it still didn’t justify murder and subsequently only seven months in police custody.

    9. Leslie says:

      Thanks for the info, ST.

      It would be interesting to know what testimony the jury heard, not what the family said on TV. If anybody knows, please comment.

    10. Baklava says:

      They point Leslie is that it IS irrelevant.

      Divorce or WEAVE was an option.

      Having your husband charged for assault was an option.

      Now it’s not. He’s DEAD. He has no defense. The children nor he can visit each other anymore.

      She is a danger to society because she does not know how to deal with issues.

      Teenagers will be an issue for her. What will she do? Point a weapon at them to get them to talk to her?

    11. Severian says:

      Divorce or WEAVE was an option.

      Was he a carpetbagger? Did he wear a “rug?” :-"

      Sorry Bak, couldn’t help myself. :)>-

    12. Divorce or WEAVE was an option.

      Weave got one day til Friday ;)

    13. Baklava says:

      Whew. That one went over my head for a full 20 seconds ST. I finally got it… :">

    14. Steve Skubinna says:

      Ha ha! Bak, you mowon!

    15. Great White Rat says:

      Divorce or WEAVE was an option.

      Or maybe she’s a basketball coach when not killing family members… :d

    16. Logon Didonai says:

      Consider this:

      If every woman in the middle east were to kill an abusive husband would there be any need for diplomacy and the ten US Army divisions floundering in that political sink hole? Its the fault of the millions of stupid females who permit men to define them by their vagina (what’s left of it…) and who force upon them the severely restricting intellectual disposition of a sand lizard.

      The Pastor’s wife has been freed by the COURT… after a careful review of all the facts unavailable to the public. Everyone screams about the horror of judges being too liberal and lenient until they face the bench as a suspect. Then they pray for a liberal judge.

      He wanted oral sex and his demand offended her self image. He forced the issue. She defended herself. It was rape… marital rape…by her PRIEST.
      He deserved every pellet she gave him. Anyone who has endured sexual abuse by a trusted person would agree.

      The wound never heals.