Attorney Kay Farese Turner of Memphis filed the appeal May 23 on her client’s behalf after Tennessee law blocked Winkler’s April 2007 petition for custody.
Mary Winkler was convicted in April and sentenced in May of voluntary manslaughter in the death of her husband, Matthew Winkler, a Church of Christ preacher in Selmer.
After the conviction, Matthew Winkler’s parents filed a suit to terminate Mary Winkler’s parental rights and to adopt the girls – Patricia, 9, Allie, 7 and Brianna, 2.
Dan and Diane Winkler have cared for the girls since their mother was arrested March 23, 2006, the day after Matthew Winkler’s death.
Tennessee law places adoption petitions, which are heard in chancery court, ahead of custody petitions heard in juvenile court.
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Now the Court of Appeals decision allows Dan and Diane Winkler to continue pursuing permanent custody of the girls.
The order also assessed all court costs in the matter to Mary Winkler, who received free legal services throughout her murder trial.