Mary Winkler’s trial set for April 9

An April 9 trial date has been set for Mary Winkler, the minister’s wife facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting death of her husband, a defense attorney confirmed Friday.

“That was an agreed-upon date,” attorney Steve Farese Sr. said in a telephone interview. “I think everyone is ready to get this tried.”

McNairy County Circuit Court Judge Weber McCraw issued an order Friday setting the trial date.

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Farese said defense attorneys and prosecutors settled all but one of the remaining defense motions in conference. A date has not been set to hear the final motion.

McCraw heard testimony Thursday from witnesses in connection with a defense motion to suppress evidence seized from the home of Mary Winkler and her husband, Matthew Winkler. Matthew Winkler, 31, was the minister at Selmer’s Fourth Street Church of Christ.

The judge took the motion into consideration and has said he will issue a written ruling.

Farese has said he filed the motion because police obtained the evidence without a search warrant.

Church members said they went looking for Matthew Winkler at the parsonage when he didn’t show up to teach his Bible class on the evening of March 22. They found him dead in the couple’s bedroom.

The church members called police, who searched the home for evidence and proceeded to remove items as the investigation progressed.

Assistant District Attorney General Walter Freeland called four witnesses Thursday who

testified that after the crime scene was processed, search warrants were obtained. He said many of the items found outside of the bedroom are not expected to be presented during the trial.

Mary Winkler was arrested the day after the shooting in Orange Beach, Ala., where she had taken the couple’s three young daughters. She has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and is free on bond, living and working in McMinnville.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said that Mary Winkler was involved in check-kiting, which involves writing a check on one bank, depositing it at another bank and then withdrawing the funds before the check clears. But defense attorneys have said that both Winklers were the victims of a “Nigerian-type scam,” in which people are asked to pay advance fees to receive supposed lottery winnings.

Defense attorneys also have said that at trial they will present allegations that Matthew Winkler abused his wife physically, sexually, mentally and verbally.

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