Mary Winkler Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter in Death of Husband Matthew Winkler


The verdict is has come in the Mary Winkler murder trial … guilty of voluntary Mary Winkler 1manslaughter. Mary Winkler faces 3-6 years for the murder of her husband.

 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 a third of the sentence.

This is hardly the verdict that prosecutors hoped for as they were going after first and second degree murder charges. However, Mary Winkler told jurors on Wednesday a gripping story of physical and sexual abuse that obviously swayed them.

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.


(One the surface it all seemed so normal)

It seems obvious that the jury felt they needed to punish Mary Winkler as there was a murder yet they also were never going to give her a first or second degree murder verdict that would have carried a sentence far worse that 3 to 6 years. Was it the right thing to do? Was it an accident or more a situation that someone was pushed to the breaking point due to abuse? Or was it as the prosecution stated an effort to conceal a check writing scheme?

Did the jury do the right thing?

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Posted April 20, 2007 by
Crime, Murder | 28 comments

If you liked this post, you may also like these:

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  • Slain Minister’s Wife, Mary Winkler, Confessed to the Murder of Matthew Winkler
  • Mary Winkler, Wife of Murdered Minister Matthew Winkler, has Confessed to Killing Him
  • Family of Mary Winkler Speak Out … Claims Abuse caused Her to Snap and Murder Mathew Winkler
  • Amber Alert Issued in TN for Missing Winkler Children. Father, Minister Matthew Winkler Found Shot

  • Comments

    28 Responses to “Mary Winkler Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter in Death of Husband Matthew Winkler”

    1. Stranger on April 20th, 2007 8:33 am

      This verdict could send a dangerous message to some disgruntled women. It is reaching the point where a guy can’t go to sleep these days. Several years ago Bobbit got a bob job while he was sleeping and now we have this preacher take a shotgun blast while he was sleeping!

      Something was wrong in that household that needs to be explored further.

    2. Houston on April 20th, 2007 9:36 am

      Being a preacher’s wife is not easy, I don’t understand why there was a loaded shotgun around with such young kids in the house. I did not hear if anyone supported her in her abuse claims? I suppose the jury considered things that we did not hear about.

    3. Mike on April 20th, 2007 9:39 am

      Whats bothers me most is where was the proof of abuse in this case. No one on the defense side could back up her medical reports even her own family and friends could provide proof..its was her word only.

      He may have been one SOB but without any proof or evidence this may open a can or worms in future murder cases IMO

    4. jennifer34 on April 20th, 2007 9:41 am

      #1 That is true. A guy can’t go to sleep these days and a guy can’t seem to get a divorce, they just kill there wife. I think more men and women both are just killing as opposed to seeking other alternatives.

      I agree there was def. somthing wrong in that household.

    5. Stranger on April 20th, 2007 10:14 am

      #4 – You make it sound like only men kill their spouses. Maybe you should tune into Court TV and wait for the verdict in the Melanie McGuire trial. You know, the woman that is accused of shooting her husband and then cutting him into small chunks and stuffing him in three suitcases.

    6. Stranger on April 20th, 2007 10:20 am

      #3 – I too would like to see something substantial to support the claim of abuse. If this was a case of long-term physical and mental abuse, those would definitely be extenuating circumstances.

      If this was a case of the guy being angry over her empting their bank accounts and saying so, then we have something much different happening.

    7. mayan_moons on April 20th, 2007 10:26 am

      The cross exam of Mary was as exciting as watching paint dry, if you believe the defendant is guilty of first degree murder you should come out swinging till no one’s left standing but the judge and jury.

    8. Stranger on April 20th, 2007 10:40 am

      There is a risk involved when attacking a sympathetic appearing witness. Since the victim was put on trial in this instance, more effort should have been taken to expose his true character, good or bad.

    9. Mike on April 20th, 2007 11:31 am

      I agree mayan….the prosecution screwed this case up bigtime…I think the state was out lawyered from Jury selection to closing arguements.

      Exactly how do you allow a juror who states she was abused before the trial stated to sit on a jury in a case that everyone knows the defense in going to bring abuse up….true or not? Also the jury was made up of 10 women and 2 men…seems it was sympathetic to MW at the start and just needed any justification even without proof to convict Matthew instead of Mary. JMO

    10. oldencrabby on April 20th, 2007 11:36 am

      I agree that this sends a message to disgruntled spouses, however there is spousal abuse without outward signs and I think from watching Mary’s (IMO)flat affect, this is a telltale sign. Who knows what was really going through her mind, I just hope she (and her children) get good mental health support through this.

    11. Stranger on April 20th, 2007 11:57 am

      I just hope if she ever re-marries that her next husband doesn’t upset her and then goes to sleep.

      I’m having a problem with the outcome of this case. She was not in imminent danger and she had the gun. She could have left the house and gone to family, or anything! Shooting a sleeping man just doesn’t have the right ring about it.

    12. Miss-Underestimated on April 20th, 2007 12:05 pm

      This is scary to me. Only Mary knows what happened. Preachers wifes can get divorces too. We have a society that let’s spouse kill each other based on abuse. Why not leave. I know women who have left men who were abusive, it is not impossible, I even think in Marys case, she could have told him I am leaving, let me go or I will expose you to your church…..

      BTW wasn’t he sleeping ?

      I have fear for men who’s wives want to get rid of em…say abuse?

    13. irl500girl on April 20th, 2007 12:31 pm

      I think if she was being abused she should have left him not shot him. She had family she could have gone too. In this day and age there is plenty of help for abused women.
      She played this thing like a fiddle and the jury were saps.

    14. MuffyBee on April 20th, 2007 1:17 pm

      Why was Mary pointing a gun at him in the first place? Was she or her children in IMMEDIATE danger? If not, well then…And #2, just because there are young children in the house doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t have firearms in the house. It means you must be responsible and keep them out of their hands. Taking and pointing a shotgun at your spouse and then saying it went off by accident sounds like BS to me. Any firearm should be considered loaded and capable of going off.

    15. John Staton on April 20th, 2007 2:03 pm

      The shotgun. Did she load it earlier for use at the time? No one leaves one loaded without a trigger lock and secured from children. Does anyone else out there see murder 1 like I see?

    16. Mike on April 20th, 2007 2:59 pm

      Anyone who has handled a shotgun knows you can’t accidentally fire one. Its a bet of pull on the trigger to fire.

      What you have was a expertly picked jury by the defense that basically decided to follow every command they gave. They didn’t go by evidence let alone common sense the bit hook, line, and sinker. The defense got themselves a Robert Durst jury.

    17. Skyboxx on April 20th, 2007 5:13 pm

      We don’t know if the preacher was bad or not. Say he is, he doesn’t deserve to die. She should have exposed him and left with her children. I don’t buy her story and hre is why….

      She doesn’t remember shooting him, but she remembers getting the gun, remembers pointing it at him, remembers something happening, remembers checking on him, remembers leaving the room, remembers unplugging the phone, remembers getting the kids, remembers taking clothes and supplies and remembers fleeing. But she cannot remember pulling the trigger???????

      She could have left with her children gone home to her parents who I believe lived in another state and exposed him, (IF HE WAS SO BAD). Heck exposing a preacher these days is good for three cable network appearances (paid).

      Sorry, but my spidey senses say the good preachers wife, was into more than we know (more than check kiting, and such) they fought and she ended his life.

      I hope she serves the whole term.

      All women claim abuse now adays when they are caught.

      There was a case in Orlando Florida where a woman actually got 2nd degree murder. Why, well, she kills her husband, ties him up, calls her boyfriend asks him over, tell him what happened, asks him to tie her up and leave. She calls her daughter and says come rescue me and she inturn calls tells authorities she was an d dead hubby are victims of burglary for drugs and murder. Well the ‘ole copperoo’s don’t buy her story, start asking questions and the case fall apart. Why didn’t she get First degree murder? (Obviousy this was planned out) Two reasons, she claims she was abused (guess the boyfriend backed he up on that one) and she pleaded out basically to get the 2nd degree.

      If it was a man, they would be screaming holy crap, but alas, she was abuse, wha, wha, wha…….

    18. whytegirl on April 20th, 2007 6:47 pm

      I know I might have some ppl jumping at me, but on Easter I had an episode where I remembered segments of an event. This happened due to the state of shock I was because of an unexpected surprise I had.

      I was given a nice present inside a garbage bag box. Yes, a HEFTY garbage bag box!!!! >:-(

      You’d say this is stupid, and it is a family joke, but the fact is that in all the years I have dated and married my husband (11), this is the first time someone pulls that one on me. The person that did this is the reason we are going to marriage counseling.

      I remember opening the present, I remember the shock, I remember saying, “Hey look, honey!”, as I held the box and raised for my husband to see (I did not see the box), and some laughter. I then went blank, said something (can’t remember what), there was some exchange theeeen I remember opening the box. I was withdrawn AFTER I went blank because I was desperate on what to do, on keeping a straight face and on not losing it right there and then.

      I was constantly talking to myself, to not take anything personal, to keep a straight face, to do this for the kids…

      I asked my husband because I don’t recall everything. He said I did a nice job, and that he found it weird and odd that X person put the present inside a garbage bag box.

      Of course I am keeping such a treasure for the next marriage counseling session, and see what feedback the counselor gives us. Because even though my husband does not believe that it was intentional, I do believe it was done with all the intention in the world to throw me off the wagon.

      Oh, and I take antidepressants. So I have to give her all the benefit of the doubt.

    19. anniekwa on April 20th, 2007 7:32 pm

      I find the prosecution lazy in this case. The only “witness” of abuse was the defendant herself. Even her own daughter testified against her on that matter. It would have been so easy to discredit her case. The prosecution could have brought in her GYN to question to make sure that she didn’t show signs of sexual abuse (which can be proven through exams and given she gave birth only a year earlier, that should have been easy enough to prove). Also, did he cross-examine her after the defense put her on the stand? She had told the police when she was captured that her husband never physically abused her. Why did he not challenge her on that? It was on tape, they played it enough. Yet in court under oath she claimed he punched her and kicked her, etc. She would have had bruises that would be visible with being punched in the face and no one could back that up. She probably would have suffered some sort of internal bruising at a minimum if she had been kicked like she claimed and yet there were no physical signs of that either. Why didn’t he challenge her change in statement? Either way, he could make her appear to the jury as untrustworthy because she either lied to the police or lied under oath, which was it?

      Also, the whole part of the “an accident” angle was so easy to disprove. Why didn’t the prosecution again in cross ask her about why she left? When did she pack the bags that she had in the car for she and the kids? Could he have brought her daughter back to prove she had them packed ahead of time? What about her turning her hubby’s body over and wiping his mouth? If an accident, wouldn’t her first inkling be to call 911? Instead, she turns him over, wipes blood off his face and leaves him there to bleed to death, loads up the girls and disguises herself and runs.

      Then there is the big question and that is (having worked in safe houses before) how come if he was so abusive, did she have control of the family finances? If she was that unhappy, why not just run? She could easily have pulled out money and run to a safe house or to family or wherever. Instead, she consciously made a choice to pop him off rather than take off. Abused women rarely have access to the finances. The controlling perp usually keeps the finances under his control because it is a way to keep her under control. That is what does not fit with abuse at all in this case. She had freedom to leave and chose to kill him instead.

      She also had a job. Most abused women are isolated from everyone, including taking on a job. She just doesn’t fit the profile of an abused person.

      I clearly was not present in the courtroom to hear all the testimony given, but proceedings seem to go rather quickly and the press never reported that any of these were brought out in cross examination. I just feel that the jury got a picture of what the defendant wanted and not the real truth.

      Did anyone examine the computers for porn? They could probably trace back the logins to figure out who was actually bringing that in the house (if it ever really was). For all we know, she may be the person that is into porn, not him.

      What is really tragic is that she probably painted her husband as this horrible pig of a man when he may have never been. Even if he wasn’t the easiest person to live with, why not just leave? She had the means to do so and freedom away from the house. Instead she killed him. I believe this was a cold, calculated plan of hers and now she is going to get away with it. It frustrates the heck out of me!

    20. Ruddy on April 20th, 2007 8:00 pm


      10 women on the jury determined that she was honest as she painted him as abusive with no hard evidence yet she shots the man in the back with a shotgun and then flees!

      Maybe OJ was innocent afterall, maybe Joran didnt do anything wrong!

      Really pisses me off!

    21. polkadot on April 20th, 2007 9:34 pm

      i disagree. abuse cannot always be proven. Even people living in the same house with abuser and someone being abused truly may not know what goes on behind one closed door. GYN recs may not prove anything. Abused women are not always isolated – you would be shocked at how many women you know who fight abuse every day of their lives.
      I’m not saying Mary Winkler is innocent. Just speaking from experience.

    22. anniekwa on April 20th, 2007 10:25 pm

      polkadot, I stand corrected! However, if you look I said “most”, not “all”. I have worked for years with abuse victims and in the majority of instances, isolation and definitely isolation from funds was consistently experienced by the victim. Many were not allowed to work out of the house and many didn’t even have any mode of transportation. I agree that not all are handled that way, but many, many are. She may have been an exception, but that still does not give her a right to shoot someone. She had means and opportunity to just leave and get away from the situation.

    23. Ruddy on April 20th, 2007 11:44 pm

      I am sickening by this verdict, no longer can I hold the justice department of Aruba accountable for their actions after the 10 women bascially set free a woman that shot a defenseless man in the back!

      Maybe the Muslim believe has some justification to it.

    24. Glaswegian on April 21st, 2007 3:24 am

      I have also know several women who have been abused by a spouse, both physically and mentally…and none of them would have dared try to do what she did with the check kiting scheme — Whether or not he was abusive, she was not in imminent danger and she shot him in the back. Interestingly, the jury didn’t buy “the gun went off by accident” defense in the Betty Broderick trial — of course she murdered two people after using her daughter’s keys to get in the house. Again, obviously not in imminent danger.

      Just food for thought. I really truly don’t know what to believe about the husband, I don’t have enough info. But, if it wasn’t true then the prosecution did a terrible disservice to him and his family..


    25. mayan_moons on April 21st, 2007 12:34 pm

      Mike you are right, the state was outlawyered bigtime. Believe it or not though women are usually harder on other women but as we see there can be exceptions. And you re right about the shotgun being far from a hair trigger weapon was eith racked ahead of time or she was so comfortable enough with it to quickly rack it and then shoot. I don’t know about you but i think she racked it ahead of time coz ANYONE who owns a shotgun knows what it sounds like and even in a deep sleep would wake up on hearing that sound, unless they were drunk or drugged. She ripped the phone out of the wall so her couldn’t call for help. This lady charged with first degree murder was allowed bail and a month before trial began was photographed inside a bar drinking with a cell phone. Something you’re NOT supposed to do while out on bail. Was she taken in and bail revoked? NO.

    26. mamagee on April 21st, 2007 1:07 pm

      Obviously, most of you have never heard of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is very possible for an abused woman to still be able to work. But I bet co-workers would describe her as being insecure and lacking confidence. This type of abuse doesn’t have proof. It happens gradually over a span of years by a controlling and critical spouse. It is so gradual that the victim doesn’t even seeing it coming themself. Just one day it is there and they’re not sure how it happened. They do not leave because they have been convinced they’re only worth is because of their spouse.

      Was he asleep, or had he just insulted and belittled her again, then satisfied that he had given her what she deserved, said “I’m going to bed”? Leaving her to feel like she is not even worthy of an argument.

      It happens people. There are some very mean and controlling people in this world of both sexes.

      I only hope that this was the case and that a woman did not get away with cold blooded murder to avoid consequence of her own wrongs.

    27. WTF on April 21st, 2007 4:49 pm

      This is crazy as hell. 3-6 years for killing someone!! Get convicted of drunk driving or having drugs without harming anyone and get more time than that. Disgusting.

    28. Stranger on April 22nd, 2007 9:55 am

      #18 – Please don’t keep a loaded shotgun around your house. If a garbage bag box used to wrap a gift can set you off, then you must be walking on a pretty thin wire!

      I’m not in favor of men or women killing each other and then creating a defense based upon abuse. This woman was not being held captive in that house. She was free to come and go as she pleased. She chose to shoot her husband and then spend a few days at the beach. Now, he is dead forever and she might spend a few years in jail.

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