Mary Winkler‘s recent appeals court petition to regain custody of her three daughters is legally “frivolous” and should be dismissed, according to court papers filed Monday by the parents of her slain husband.
Dan and Diane Winkler, whose son Matthew Winkler was shot to death last year by Mary Winkler, have had custody of the girls since the shooting and are seeking to adopt them.
They argue that Mary Winkler’s Juvenile Court petition to reclaim custody has properly been stayed while their Chancery Court petition to terminate her parental rights and adopt the children is pending.
“The filing of an adoption petition in Chancery Court suspends any pending Juvenile Court proceedings pertaining to the children, including custody, until the Chancery Court has ruled on the adoption,” attorney Jake Adams of Corinth, Miss., wrote on behalf of the Winklers.
Mary Winkler voluntarily signed over temporary custody to the grandparents when she was arrested in Orange Beach, Ala., on March 23 last year, the day after she shot her 31-year-old husband in the back in their Selmer home owned by the Fourth Street Church of Christ, where he was the pulpit preacher.
She was charged with first-degree murder, but after testifying that her husband was abusive to her, a McNairy County Circuit Court jury convicted her of a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter in April.
Winkler, 33, who remains free on $750,000 bond, could receive probation or prison time of more than a year when she is sentenced Friday.
Through her attorneys, she recently filed an emergency appeal asking the Tennessee Court of Appeals to halt her in-laws’ termination-adoption case until the Juvenile Court can hear her petition for their immediate return.
The girls, now ages 9, 7 and 2, have been living with their paternal grandparents in Huntingdon, where their grandfather is a preacher at the Huntingdon Church of Christ.