Mary Winkler will not face death penalty

DA also says he will not seek life without parole in case of slain Selmer minister

If Mary Winkler is convicted of the first-degree murder of her preacher husband she will be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole – between 51 and 60 years in prison – the prosecutor in the case said Tuesday.

District Attorney General Michael Dunavant said he has confirmed for defense attorneys that he does not intend to seek the death penalty for Mary Winkler. Nor is he seeking life without parole, which would have meant Winkler would spend the rest of her life in prison if convicted.

The facts of the case did not justify any of the aggravating factors as outlined in the law for capital punishment cases, Dunavant explained.

“It’s a good, standard, premeditated first-degree murder case,” he said.

Winkler is accused of shooting her husband, 31-year-old Matthew Winkler, in the back as he lay in bed, possibly asleep, last March. Matthew Winkler, 31, was a well-liked preacher at Selmer’s Fourth Street Church of Christ.

Mary Winkler’s trial is set for April 9.

Her attorney Steve Farese Sr. said Tuesday that the defense was not surprised by the announcement that her case would not be a capital one. The prosecution has 20 or 30 days before trial to let the defense know whether it intends to seek the death penalty, Farese said.

“We’ve said all along that there are no aggravators in this case that would call for a capital charge,” he added.

Farese didn’t think Mary Winkler would have been released on bond if the prosecution believed it had a capital case, he said. She is presently living and working in McMinnville.

A few examples of aggravating factors, according to Farese, are killings in the perpetration of a felony, a serial-type killing or an especially cruel and heinous killing, such as torture.

He said there “was no huge response” from Mary Winkler when she was told there would be no death penalty in the case. Farese added that defense attorneys have been telling her all along that they didn’t think that would happen.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Tonya Smith-King, Jackson Sun, Mar. 14, 2007,

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 14, 2007.
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