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Mary Winkler waives hearing, tells friend she’s thinking of girls, slain husband

Mary Winkler will remain in the McNairy County Jail in Selmer, Tenn. after waiving her right to a hearing Thursday in the death of her husband, Fourth Street church minister Matthew Winkler. The case will go now to the grand jury, which will next convene in June, to decide if there is enough evidence to support the charges against her. First-degree murder charges were filed on March 24 in Matthew Winkler’s fatal shooting in the church-owned home the Winklers shared with their three children. Steve Farese, Mary Winkler’s lead defense attorney, said his client decided not to request bail to protect her daughters – now living with their paternal grandparents in Huntingdon, Tenn.
“We feel it does no one anygood to hear bad things said about the mother of children,” Farese saidin a post-hearing news conference. “We certainly didn’t want anythinggetting back to the children. They have a hard enough road ahead ofthem.”
Farese said they could request bond at a later date.
“I am concerned about her emotional state,” he said. “One of those concerns is whether she would harm herself.”

Authoritiessay MaryWinkler confessed to shooting her 31-year-old husband on March 22, thenleaving town with their daughters. Matthew Winkler’s body was found byfour members of the Fourth Street congregation later that evening afterhe failed to appear at evening worship. The state medical examinerconfirmed that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound fired intohis back at close range. She was found the next day after a nationwideAmber Alert was issued for the girls – Breanna, 1; MaryAlice, 6; and Patricia, 8.
“All we want is a fair trial for Mary Carol Winkler,” Farese said.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Rice had no comment on the case against Mary Winkler as she left the courtroom Thursday.

FourthStreet members have consistently and publicly supported Mary Winkler inthe last week. At least one friend from the congregation, PamKillingsworth, has visited her in jail. Several more lined the frontrow in the courtroom for Mary Winkler’s arraignment on Monay and thehearing Thursday.

Killingsworth said Thursday that she would visit Mary Winkler again in jail, just as she had on Sunday.
“Maryand I talked for approximately 30 minutes, after I had gone to tell herhow much we loved her and we’re praying for her,” Killingsworth said.”We prayed together. We talked. All we talked about was how we werepraying for her and would be there for her.
“Her focus seemed tobe on everybody other than herself,” Killingsworth said. “She wasthinking about her children, thinking about Matthew, about how thisaffected our church.”

March 30, 2006

Photo caption: Mary Winkler, second right, is escorted by Sheriff Ricky Roten, left,into the McNairy County courtroom during her preliminary hearing,Thursday, March 30, 2006, in Selmer, Tenn. Winkler, a minister’s wifecharged with shooting her husband to death in the church parsonage, wasordered held without bail after waiving her right to a hearingThursday. The case against Winkler now goes to the grand jury, whichwill determine if there is enough evidence to support the murdercharges against her. (Photo by Russell Ingle, Independent Appeal, used by permission)

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