Preacher’s wife sentenced in his death

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A woman who killed her preacher husband with a shotgun blast to the back as he lay in bed was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, but with time served could be released on probation in a little more than two months.

Mary Winkler must serve at least 210 days of her sentence but gets credit for the 143 days she has already spent in jail, Judge Weber McCraw said.

That leaves 67 days, and McCraw said up to 60 days of the sentence could be served in a facility where she could receive mental health treatment. That means Winkler might spend only another week in jail.

Prosecutors had pursued a murder charge against Winkler, 33, but jurors convicted her of the lesser count of voluntary manslaughter in April.

“Of course it’s a victory,” her attorney Steve Farese said. “She could be in prison for life.”

She could have received up to six years for killing her husband, Matthew, in the parsonage where the family lived in March 2006. A day later she was arrested 340 miles away on the Alabama coast, driving the family minivan with her three young daughters inside.

Matthew Winkler’s family left the courtroom without commenting, and there was no immediate comment from the prosecution.

At her trial Winkler testified she was physically and emotionally abused by her husband, but at her sentencing hearing Friday she said, “I think of Matthew every day, and I’ll always miss him and love him.”

Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence for the death of Matthew Winkler, 31, a popular preacher in the small west Tennessee town of Selmer.

Freeland said that just before the fatal shooting bank managers were closing in on a check-kiting scheme that Mary Winkler wanted to conceal from her husband. Prosecutors claimed she had become caught up in a swindle known as the “Nigerian scam,” which promises riches to victims who send money to cover the processing expenses.

Winkler, however, testified during her trial that her husband hit and kicked her, forced her to look at pornography and demanded sex she considered unnatural. Jurors were shown a pair of tall, platform shoes and a black wig Winkler said she was pressured to wear during sex.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
AP (via StarNewsOnline), USA
June 9,2007
Woody Baird
www.wilmingtonstar.com

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This post was last updated: Jun. 11, 2007