Preacher’s wife convicted of voluntary manslaughter

first_imgSELMER, Tenn. – A preacher’s wife who claimed her husband abused her was convicted of voluntary manslaughter Thursday for killing him with a shotgun she said fired accidentally as she aimed at him. Mary Winkler showed no emotion as the verdict was read. Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, but the jury settled on the lesser charge after deliberating for eight hours. She faces three to six years in prison but would be eligible for parole after serving about one-third of the sentence. If Winkler, 33, had been convicted of first- or second-degree murder, she would have gone to prison for at least 12 years and maybe for the rest of her life. Her lawyers said Mary Winkler’s testimony was decisive. “They had to hear it from Mary; there was no other source,” defense attorney Steve Farese said. Winkler told jurors in powerful testimony Wednesday that her husband, Matthew, abused her physically and sexually, but she said she did not pull the trigger and the shotgun went off accidentally as she pointed it at him. The prosecution said it was ludicrous to suggest the shooting was an accident. Assistant District Attorney General Walt Freeland said bank managers were closing in on a check-kiting scheme that Mary Winkler wanted to conceal from her husband. Matthew Winkler, a 31-year-old preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ, was found in the church parsonage shot in his back in March 2006. One day later, his wife was arrested on the Alabama coast, driving the family minivan with their three young daughters. Matthew Winkler’s father, who is also a preacher, thanked the jury and thanked God for being “our rock and our shield” during the trial.last_img read more