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No More Prison Time for Preacher’s Wife?

Posted Jun 8, 2007 5:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although she was sentenced today to three years in prison for killing her husband last year with a shotgun blast to the back as he lay in bed in the family home, a Tennessee preacher's widow may not serve any more time in prison.

That's because Mary Winkler, 33, should only have to serve about seven months of the three-year term after she is given standard credit for good behavior, and she has already spent five months in prison awaiting trial, explains AP. Hence, because Judge Weber McGraw said she could serve up to two months in a mental hospital receiving in-patient treatment, Winkler's prison time may already be at an end. Convicted of voluntary manslaughter in April after a jury trial, she could have been sentenced to up to six years in prison.

Prosecutors had sought a murder conviction, contending that Winkler had been mishandling family finances and thus had a money motive for the killing. She testified that her husband was physically and verbally abusive and pressured her into sexual practices she considered demeaning. During the trial, jurors were shown a pair of platform shoes and a black wig Winkler said her husband forced her to wear. At sentencing she apologized to his relatives, but they said her testimony was a further attack on Matthew Winkler, a popular 31-year-old preacher in Selmer.

"The monster that you have painted for the world to see? I don't think that monster existed," testified his mother, Diane. She also complained that Winkler never apologized to the couple's three daughters, 9, 7 and 2, the AP article continues. "You've never told your girls you're sorry," Diane Winkler told her daughter-in-law in court. "Don't you think you at least owe them that?"

News of the sentence ignited vociferous debate in the comments section of the Tennessean, with some complaining that Winkler got off too easy and questioning her self-portrait of victimhood and others saying that her husband had brought about his own death by treating her badly.

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