Mary Winkler returns to court to fight for custody of her daughters

HUNTINGDON – Mary Winkler and the parents of the husband she killed were back in court Friday, arguing over custody of her three daughters and information about the trust fund established for the children.

Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter last year in the March 2006 shooting death of her husband, Matthew, a minister in Selmer. Matthew Winkler’s parents, Dan and Diane Winkler of Huntingdon, have had custody of the couple’s three daughters since shortly after the killing. Mary Winkler wants to have them returned to her.

Friday’s court matters were discussed for about an hour in the chambers of Carroll County Chancellor Ron Harmon. The media was not allowed inside, and no decisions were announced.

The court has allowed Mary Winkler to see her children periodically since late last year. Times and conditions of those meetings are under court seal.

After leaving the courtroom, Winkler told the media she is glad to have the time with the girls – Patricia, 10; Mary Alice (Allie), 8; and Brianna, 3.

“I’m just thankful that my girls are able to be with me and I’m able to be with them,” Mary Winkler said. “We’re just moving forward to get back together and make our family and just love each other and take care of each other.”

When asked how her relationship with her children was “developing,” she said, “There is nothing to develop. I am their mother.”

Before entering Harmon’s chamber, Mary Winkler’s attorneys argued the trust information should be made public, stating the press had been allowed to hear previous motions regarding the trust. Her attorneys have argued previously that all documents from the trust should be revealed, at least to Winkler’s attorneys, to show whether the money is being spent properly.

Attorneys representing the Winkler children and Dan and Diane Winkler argued against making the trust information public.

“Today there will be documents discussed, which on behalf of the children, I think should be kept from the media,” said Robert Hawley, who represents the children.

Harmon said he would rule on the matters of allowing the press to remain in the courtroom on a case-by-case basis. He agreed with Hawley and the attorneys for Matthew Winkler’s parents, ordering the matters to be handled in the privacy of his chamber.

No future court dates were established Friday, according to the chancellor’s office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday May 17, 2008.
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