My ugly came out, Mary Winkler says in tape

SELMER, Tenn. – The audio recording of Mary Winkler‘s sometimes barely audible statement – which prosecutors term her confession – took up more than six hours of testimony Friday.

The lengthy and in-depth questioning of Alabama Bureau of Investigation agent Stan Stabler, who conducted the recorded interview, was followed by more than two hours of questioning for Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Chris Carpenter.

A four-page statement handwritten by Carpenter and initialed and signed by Mary Winkler was the subject of his testimony.

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Mary Winkler, 33, is on trial for the March 22, 2006 shooting death of her husband, Church of Christ minister Matthew Winkler, 31. His body was found in the bedroom of the parsonage in Selmer where the couple lived with their three young daughters.

The case for the first-degree murder charge against Mary Winkler is based on premeditation and an intentional shooting.

Assistant District Attorney Walt Freeland said those necessary elements are clear in Mary Winkler’s responses under interrogation by Stabler in Orange Beach, Ala. on March 23, 2006, the same evening she and her children were found through an Amber Alert search.

Freeland asked Stabler to play the audio of the interview, while he distributed print transcripts for jurors to follow along. Some excerpts:

Stabler: “What was he doing when you shot him? Was he lying in the bed, sitting in a chair, walking around? Huh?”

Winkler: “I don’t remember.”

Stabler: “How many times did you shoot? You remember that? More than once?”

Winkler: “Um.”

Stabler: “Just one time?”

Winkler: “Surely not.”

Stabler: “Just one time?”

Winkler: “Couldn’t have.”

The recording was approximately 70 minutes, and through most of the questioning Mary Winkler offered no comment. However, as questioning continued she was drawn out.

Stabler: “He would knock your self-esteem down?”

Winkler: “Uh, no. Uh, just chewing, whatever. And that’s the problem, I have nerve now and I have self-esteem, so my ugly came out.”

Under defense attorney Steve Farese’s questioning the audio was played again, but with frequent pauses for Farese to emphasize his client’s defense.

“Did you ever ask her if she intentionally shot her husband?” Farese asked. “Did you ever ask her if she accidentally shot her husband? Did you ever ask her if she intentionally pulled the trigger?”

The interview Carpenter conducted with Mary Winkler after she was returned to Tennessee summarized her responses in his own writing, which Mary Winkler then initialed and signed.

In the statements she admits to the shooting after experiencing a recurrence of behavior by Matthew Winkler that she said at one time had been “life threatening” and “scared her.”

“I don’t know what set him off,” she said.

Testimony in the case continues in McNairy County Circuit Court today.

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