SELMER, Tenn. – A minister's wife charged with murdering her husband told police she shot him after they argued over family finances and then told him "I'm sorry" as he lay dying in their bedroom, according to testimony at a bond hearing Friday.
Mary Winkler, 32, has been jailed without bond since March 23, accused of killing her husband, Matthew Winkler, 31, at their Church of Christ parsonage in Selmer, a small town 80 miles east of Memphis.
In court Friday, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Brian Booth read a statement Mary Winkler gave authorities in Alabama, where she was arrested a day after her husband's body was found by church members.
Booth testified that Winkler told police she knew her husband kept a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun in the closet of the home where they lived with their three daughters. She said she didn't remember getting the gun.
"The next thing I remember was hearing a loud boom. I remember thinking it wasn't as loud as I thought it would be," Booth said, reading from Winkler's statement.
She told police her husband rolled from the bed onto the floor after being shot.
"He asked me why, and I just said `I'm sorry,"' Booth read from the statement.
Prosecutor Walter Freeland said Matthew Winkler was shot in the back from close range with a 12-gauge shotgun as he lay in bed, with the blast breaking his spine and tearing into internal organs.
"When she left, Matthew Winkler was still alive," Freeland said.
Winkler said she and her husband had argued throughout the evening about several things, including family finances. The problems were "mostly my fault," she said, because she was in charge of keeping the family books.
"He had really been on me lately criticizing me for things — the way I walk, I eat, everything. It was just building up to a point. I was tired of it. I guess I got to a point and snapped," Booth read to the court.
Booth said that shortly before the killing, Mary Winkler had shifted money between at least two banks in what he described as a "check kiting" scam. She deposited checks totaling $17,500 in family bank accounts from unidentified sources in Canada and Nigeria, he said.
The checks and money exchanges were not detailed in court, but defense lawyers said Mary Winkler was the victim of a financial scam.
"In certain scams, you may have to send money to somebody that's holding money. You send them a good check. They send you a bad check," Winkler's lawyer, Steve Farese, said after the hearing. He declined to provide more details.
Judge Weber McCraw is expected to decide, perhaps by next week, if he will set a bond. Prosecutors asked McCraw to keep Winkler in jail to await her trial scheduled in October.
The defense has asked for reasonable bond to be set for Winkler, who is charged with first-degree murder. The prosecution is seeking no bond, saying it is a capital case. Prosecutors haven't indicated whether they plan to seek the death penalty, although they have until 30 days before the trial to announce their intentions.
Church members were expected to testify on the Winkler's behalf.