Mary Winkler: Guilty of voluntary manslaughter - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL


Mary Winkler: Guilty of voluntary manslaughter

A Tennessee jury convicted Mary Winkler of voluntary manslaughter Thursday evening.  It took them close to 8 hours to reach that verdict.

Voluntary manslaughter is a charge that suggests the crime was committed in an irrational state.

"The verdict reads as follows, we the jury find the defendant Mary C. Winkler guilty of voluntary manslaughter, " said Judge  Weber McCraw.

As the verdict was read, Mary Winkler showed no emotion. Neither did the parents of Matthew Winkler, who stood quietly as the judge announced the jury's decision.

When court was over, Winkler quickly rushed out and made no comment. But her attorneys had plenty to say.

"Our reaction is the verdict was most probably just," said Defense Attorney Steve Farese.

Defense attorneys say putting Winkler on the stand helped their case adding the jury needed to hear from her.  She told the court Wednesday that her husband, Matthew Winkler, abused her physically and sexually.  And that the shotgun went off accidentally.

"This is a case about 2 people with a tumultuous marriage who had some 10 years that ended in tragedy," said Defense Attorney Leslie Ballin.

That tragedy, prosecutors argue, was premeditated murder. They told jurors Winkler planned to shoot and kill her husband because she didn't want him to know she was involved in a check-kiting scam.

Witnesses for the state described Matthew Winkler as a good husband and father. His 9-year old daughter, even testified she never saw Matthew mistreat her mother.  Attorney Walter Freeland told jurors in closing arguments "Matthew did not deserve to die."

After the verdict was announced, Matthew's father, Dan Winkler, spoke briefly about his son.

"We are very grateful for the privilege and honor that was ours to be the parents of Matthew Brian Winkler. We treasure the memory of the love he had for his family, for his Lord, for his church, for us his parents," said Dan Winkler.

Mary Winkler will be sentenced May 18th at 9am. She will be sentenced to only 3 to 6 years in prison.  Winkler could be released on parole after serving only 30 percent of that time. 

Winkler remains free on a 750-thousand dollars bond. She will continue to live in McMinnville and follow the court's rules concerning her probation.

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