Jury selection begins today in murder trial of Mary Winkler
“You hear so much that you just don’t know who or what to believe on the subject,” Jimmy Davis, a local restaurant owner, told The Tennessean last week. “I know I don’t know what to believe.”
In the weeks leading up to the trial, Dan and Diane Winkler filed a $2 million wrongful death lawsuit against Mary Winkler, which legal experts say is a pre-emptive move to keep Mary Winkler from profiting from book or movie deals. The timing was likely because of a one-year statute of limitations.
Winkler responded by retaining a custody attorney and filing a petition for guardianship of the girls, who have been in the custody of Dan and Diane Winkler since their mother’s arrest.
Dan Winkler, pulpit minister of the Huntingdon church, has repeatedly declined to comment to the Chronicle about the trial or the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, church members continue to seek information and insight into the case, which has had far-reaching effects for many.
Early media coverage brought an onslaught of commentary about Churches of Christ, including interviews with those who have characterized its congregations as male dominated and where women serve in Biblical and social subservience to their husbands.
But the congregation in the forefront of news coverage is focusing on prayer for those directly involved.
Fourth Street Church of Christ minister Jeremy Weekley prayed during Wednesday services last week that God would make the congregation strong in “the trying times to come.”
He prayed for strength especially for church members who will have to testify in the case.
Two weeks have been set aside for the trial, which will be televised live by Court TV once a jury has been chosen. Circuit Court Judge Weber McGraw will preside.
Winkler has been free on $750,000 bond for several months, living and working in nearby McMinnville, Tenn. She also has visited with her three daughters.
Winkler faces up to 51 years in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder. Prosecutors announced earlier this year they would not seek the death penalty.
April 9, 2007