SELMER, Tenn. – Bank tellers testified Saturday that a preacher's wife accused of murdering her husband was in financial trouble and that the bank had caught her trying to deposit bad checks.
Prosecutors have said Mary Winkler was caught up in a swindle known as the "Nigerian scam," which promises riches to victims who send money to cover the processing expenses.
But defense attorneys have said the Winklers were both taken by the scam.
Prosecutors said the Winklers' bank account was overdrawn by $5,000, and that bank employees called Mary Winkler several times in the days before her husband's death.
Diane Hollingsworth, a teller at Regions Bank, said she talked with Mary Winkler on March 21, 2006 — one day before Matthew Winkler was found shot to death in the church parsonage in this west Tennessee town.
"I just advised her that if she came in and talked to our bank manager that there would be some way that we could work it out — that it was not an impossible situation," Hollingsworth said. "I advised her if she wasn't able to come in, it would be turned over to our security department."
Investigators say Mary Winkler, 33, admitted shooting her husband and that it had something to do with his constant criticism. She was arrested a day after the shooting on the Alabama coast, about 340 miles away, where she was spotted driving the family minivan with their three young daughters inside.