SELMER, Tenn. — A jury of 10 women and two men convicted Mary Winkler today on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her preacher husband. The conviction carries a sentence range of 3 to 6 years.
Winkler, 33, had been charged with first-degree murder in the March, 22, 2006, shotgun slaying of Matthew Winkler, 31, the pulpit preacher at Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer. That charge carried an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Prosecutors contended Mary Winkler intentionally killed her husband because she had gotten the family into financial trouble and she didn’t want him to find out.
The defense argued the preacher’s wife was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by her husband and couldn’t have knowingly shot her husband because she was traumatized. They also said the shooting was an accident.
The jury deliberated eight hours. Members of Mary Winkler’s family held hands and locked arms as they prepared for the decision. One man even crossed his fingers.
When the verdict was read, there was little reaction in the courtroom.
The judge took an immediate recess after polling the jury. During the break, Mary Winkler was allowed to leave the defense table and hug her family members in the front row.
When the defense team talked with the family about the parameters of the sentencing, there were nods of satisfaction and a few smiles among the tears.
Sentencing was tentatively set for 9 a.m. May 18. Winkler remains free under her $750,000 bond.