Published September 19, 2007
HUNTINGDON, Tenn. – A woman who killed her preacher husband with a shotgun asked a judge on Wednesday to grant her custody of her three children, saying she needs to help them heal from the loss of their father.
Mary Winkler told a Carroll County judge that she hasn't been able to visit, speak with or write her daughters since she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in April.
"We can begin healing together and let God guide us," she said.
The children have been living with their paternal grandparents in Huntingdon, a small town in West Tennessee, since Winkler killed their father, Church of Christ preacher Matthew Winkler, in March 2006 in Selmer.
The grandparents, Dan and Diane Winkler, are seeking to terminate their former daughter-in-law's parental rights and adopt the girls.
Winkler argued she should at least be allowed some visitation rights immediately while the custody issue is considered.
Winkler said she is still undergoing counseling and is taking medication for anxiety and depression, but she said she is emotionally and psychologically stable enough to care for the children.
The grandparents were scheduled to make their arguments for keeping the girls later Wednesday.
Mary Winkler went to trial on a first-degree murder charge which carried a maximum punishment of life in prison, but a McNairy County jury found her guilty of a lesser offense after she testified she was physically and emotionally abused by her husband.
She spent a little more than five months in jail and about two months at a mental health facility. A psychologist called by the defense testified at her trial that she suffered from post-traumatic stress due to domestic abuse.
While on probation, Winkler is living with friends in McMinnville, 65 miles southeast of Nashville, and has a job at a laundry.
The grandparents also have filed a $2 million wrongful death suit against Winkler.