Mary Winkler: Slain preacher’s wife to get out on bond

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(CNN) — A Tennessee woman accused of fatally shooting her preacher husband is expected to be released from custody, but not until Thursday, a defense attorney told CNN.

Mary Winkler had been expected to be released from jail in McNairy County, Tennessee, Wednesday after her attorneys posted bail. But defense attorney Steve Farese said the judge wanted to review the agreed-upon conditions for her release.

She is now expected to be released between 10 a.m. and noon (11 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET), Farese said.

Earlier, defense attorney Leslie Ballin had declined to say how much the bail was, but a judge last month set a $750,000 bond and refused a reduction request.

Winkler, 32, pleaded not guilty last month to a charge of first-degree murder after she was indicted by a grand jury. She is accused of killing her husband, Matthew Winkler, 31, minister of the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee.

Church members who came looking for him when he failed to turn up for a service found him dead in his bedroom on March 22, shot in the back.

At a bond hearing in June, an investigator testified that Winkler said she shot her husband because she “snapped” after what she told authorities was repeated criticism and stress over issues including the couple’s financial situation.

In court, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Brent Booth read from Winkler’s initial statement to police: “I heard the boom, and he (Matthew Winkler) rolled out of the bed on the floor, and I saw some blood on the floor and some bleeding around his mouth. I went over and wiped his mouth off with a sheet. I told him I was sorry and that I loved him. And then I went and ran.

“He asked me, ‘Why?’ and I just said I was sorry,” Booth read.

Winkler’s attorneys have also asked the judge to suppress statements she made to police in Alabama and Tennessee after her arrest. In those statements, Ballin said, she told officers she did not want to smear her husband’s name in public.

She told Alabama officers that the killing was not planned and that she had been verbally and emotionally abused by her husband. She also said she had been through a life-threatening event in the past year, Ballin said, but would not elaborate.

Winkler told police that in the past year, the emotional and verbal abuse from her husband had worsened.

In addition, she told Tennessee officers details about the murder and about becoming involved in a Nigerian check scam, in which she lost $17,000, Ballin said.

Winkler’s father was expected to pick her up from jail after her release and take her to McMinnville, Tennessee, where she is to live with Kathy Thomson, an old friend, he said. The Winklers lived in McMinnville before moving to Selmer last year.

Ballin said Winkler has a job lined up at a dry cleaner, but did not know when she would start.

Under terms of her bond, Winkler is not allowed to leave the county except for meetings with her attorneys, court appearances and visits with her children — Patricia, 8; Mary Alice, 6; and Breanna, 1.

After the shooting, Winkler fled with the children to Orange Beach, Alabama, where she was arrested the next day.

Ballin said Winkler’s defense attorneys plan to talk with attorneys for Matthew Winkler’s parents and arrange visitation with the children, who have been living with them. Since her arrest, Winkler has seen her children once.

CNN’s Rusty Dornin contributed to this report.

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August 9, 2006
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