Home with Mommy: Mary Winkler Resumes Custody of Children After Killing Their Father

Mary Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of her husband, Church of Christ minister Matthew Winkler. However, she has now been reunited with her children and given full custody.

Winkler was sentenced only to three years in prison and spent only 12 days in jail after her sentencing. With the exception of a couple of months at a mental health facility, Winkler spent relatively little time in actual confinement for the crime.

She now has full custody of the children — ages 11, 9 and 3 — over the vehement objections of their paternal grandparents.

The jury found that her shooting her husband was voluntary manslaughter rather than murder after she alleged marital abuse by the minister.

For the full story, click here.

31 thoughts on “Home with Mommy: Mary Winkler Resumes Custody of Children After Killing Their Father

  1. The fact that the DA AND Judge (and/or Jury) were pretty lenient on this woman would indicate that her husband was most likely a pig. Personally, I rarely understand why women marry and then stay with abusive, cowardly pigs, but I think more people are realizing that some people can only take so much and then “snap”.

    And as far as custody goes, I doubt very much that the parents of the pig would encourage a good relationship between the children and their mother.

  2. If her allegations of abuse were true, the children are better off with the mother, but they will all need additional counseling down the road. This is either an example of a justice system that is not able to make sound custody judgements or a system that is working properly. Only time will tell how this turns out.

  3. A lot of people forget the number of “christian” sects that require their women to be submissive, and not to question authority, particularly any male authority. Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition, or whatever he’s calling his group these days said the following about women’s rights some time ago:

    “I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household [how could that be, since Christ by all accounts was never married?] and the husband is the head of the wife, and that is the way it is, period.”

    From what I understand, Ms. Winkler was a member of a very conservative “christian” church, so she may not have begun to question anything about her husband’s actions until after she and her husband were married, which is too late. And NO, I am not saying this was any kind of excuse for Ms. Winkler’s shooting her husband and killing him. I am saying that her extremely religious background may have played a large part in that tragedy. I’d like to think a non-religious woman would have dumped an abuser and filed for divorce after the first post-marital abuse incident occurred, and not have any children with such a person, let alone three.

  4. Susan,
    You may be right, but too many abused wives without the religious connection go back repeatedly to an abusive husband after being beaten. It is a mystery to me why they do it, but I would guess it is related to years of abuse and brain washing by the abusive and controlling husband. She may be afraid of the husband coming after her and beating her worse or hurting the children. She feels trapped in a vicious cycle.

  5. Another, equally important question to ask is, why do men repeatedly beat their wives and girlfriends? I agree rafflaw, that this happens to women who come from every background, although I do think religion has played a significant part in trapping women. Many women who have gone to a cleric, rabbi, minister, priest etc. have been told to pray harder and be more obediant. We need to look at why men feel so free to beat, intimidate and berate women in this and other societies.

  6. Rafflaw, you’re entirely correct that it is not just women with religious backgrounds who are repeatedly abused, it happens to non-religious women as well. In the Winkler case though, religion seems to have played a large part.

    Jill, as to your question of why do some men repeatedly beat their wives and girlfriends, I don’t believe there’s any one specific answer, and frankly, I don’t care why. To me, it’s a behavioral issue, not a psychological one. I made a rule for myself a very long time ago; if ANY man hits me, just once, for any reason, he’s history, permanently. No listening to reasons, excuses, or any such nonsense. As far as I’m concerned, there’s NO excuse, and I would never tolerate it. I guess I did something right; my one-strike rule has worked for many years; not once have I ever been hit or slapped by anyone. Sometimes, the simplest rules can be the most effective. :-)

  7. Susan,

    I think that’s a really smart thing to do. No one deserves to be hit.

    My reason for posing that question is this–when it comes to women being hit we always ask why she stays but usually don’t ask the corollary question, why does he keep hitting. I do believe it’s important to understand why so many men feel they have the right to hit women. For example, because religions often do justify the abuse of women, we need to know that and find ways for women who believe it is the right of their husband to beat them, to know they do not deserve to be hit. Sometimes this may be accomplished through the use of another scripture that forbids the harm. If we can’t address the religious nature of the battery then we can’t help. Ditto for cultural traditions. I also think the spotlight properly falls on men who hit.

    But I am all for what you are doing!!!

  8. Jill wrote:
    My reason for posing that question is this–when it comes to women being hit we always ask why she stays but usually don’t ask the corollary question, why does he keep hitting.

    ***************

    Agreed, but in my view, the “why does he keep hitting” question is irrelevant. And it doesn’t help the woman who’s getting hit and should get OUT of there immediately. Yes, I guess a woman could hang around trying to answer the “why” question, and risk losing her life because she hung around one day too long. Why any woman would want to do that is completely beyond me.

  9. Susan,

    I think the point Jill’s trying to make is that in addition to encouraging the women to leave we need to find a way to stop the situation from happening again. One of the elements of the situation is the man thinking it’s o.k. to hit, if we can take that away the situation won’t happen.

  10. Susan,

    I knew I must have been unclear in my post. No woman who is getting beaten or berated should have to ask the question, “why is he doing this to me”. In that context that question is even worse than irrelevant, it is, as you point out, dangerous. She should just get to safety.

    I am talking about our society. Our society needs to ask why men beat women. Also, victim advocates and those who work with abusers need to know the answer to this question. If a man tries to justify it by quoting from scripture, those who work with abusers quote other scriptures that make his behavior “unlawful” (in a relgious sense). In the meantime arrest and jail time is quite helpful in stopping the abuse and I am all for that.

    I believe we are on the same page on this, but I wasn’t very clear. Sorry,

    Jill

  11. Any man who beats his wife or children for that matter is a pig and a coward. The most important thing anyone can do is to choose the person with whom they’ll create children.

    Apparently there are so many people that will have sex with or have a child with someone they just met, but as stupid as that is, it’s worse to have a child with someone that’s already abusive.

    Women especially have to learn to a much more discerning.

  12. zakimar:

    “Any man who beats his wife or children for that matter is a pig and a coward”– and likely protected from Sharia or Hindu law in certain countries by the religiously observant.

    Another crazy American quirk, we prosecute those who beat or kill family members, even those who claim justification.

  13. mespo; you really have some kind of psychosis that makes you look for enemies where none exist. You argue with even the few people that agree with you.

    If you wish to spread hatred against Muslims and Hindus, at least wait until the subject comes up. Muslim women had inheritance and property rights 1 000 years before America was even “created” and where Black PEOPLE were treated as property, inheritance and could be raped and murdered without regard. In fact the BEST Americans like Washington and Jefferson raped their slaves.

    “Debating” with you is like telling a two year old that sugar is bad for her teeth.

  14. zak:

    “In fact the BEST Americans like Washington and Jefferson raped their slaves.”
    ***********************

    You might want to prove that instead of just spouting more anti-American propaganda. BTW with your support in an argument I might consider changing sides.

  15. I’m of the same denomination as Ms Winkler and I’m a Communist. My denomination does not have any type of president or pope or convention so each church is different. My father is a republican and my mother is an independent who votes democratic and my brother isn’t really political but votes leftwing and one of my good friends at my church is a moderate leftwinger. So it just depends on what church you are going to in what you’re going to get. My aunt and uncle attend a Church of Christ and they have two worship services. One has music and one doesn’t where traditionally the church doesn’t believe in instrumental music in the services. So you can’t lump all churches together. All the preachers my church has had the men have always been nice and not authoritative or anything like that. Of course people always have two sides of them…. I still wonder about the preacher and if he was abusive or if the woman was. Women CAN be just as abusive as any man can. I just hope the authorities keep an eye out for the woman with the children. Also keep in mind when Ms Winkler killed the husband she ran off with the children. In my unprofessional opinion if she did it in self-defense she would have not any reason to run away or she would have run to a family friend or member. Instead she took of and didn’t get in touch with anyone. Why? I personally still have a lot of unanswered question’s. To mespo you are aware that Jefferson had a child with at least one of his slaves right? Whether it’s rape or not is another story but it often happened. Pick up the book “The Narrative of Fredrick Douglass.” If you for some reason don’t know who he is Mr. Douglass was a popular abolitionist leader pre-civil war days. Oh and also my question is: do any of you have any hard evidence proof that the husband was abusive? So far all I’ve seen is the woman saying it. Sorry but as someone studying criminal justice just someone’s word isn’t enough. You have to have proof. Other wise it’s called hearsay which isn’t allowed in courts the last time I checked.

  16. Sorry, Emily but the defendant’s testimony isn’t heresay if delivered in Court and under oath as in the case of this testimony. There have been plenty of cases determined with nothing more than the testimony of the parties without benefit of corroborating evidence. Not particularly prudent to do that if you’re the prosecutor, but its done all the time. BTW sworn testimony is a form of “proof.”

  17. I find Emily ‘Guilty’ – of over-enthusiasm. Her sentence is time served and probation – until graduation next.

  18. Emily:

    “To mespo you are aware that Jefferson had a child with at least one of his slaves right?”
    *************

    Well there is little doubt that a “Jefferson” fathered Sally Hemmings’ baby, but establishing TJ as the actual father is far from certain. The evidence goes both ways and I prefer to leave that mystery to history since it really doesn’t matter. In any event,there are no allegations of rape against either founder, and zakimar is just doing his usual rabble rousing, anti-American dance around the truth.

  19. To mespo: Are you aware of Thomas Jefferson defending Benedict Arnold on hearsay? Thomas Jefferson argued that in Court you can not hold hearsay in Court against a person based on one person’s testimony. If there was evidence it wouldn’t be called hearsay. Sworn testimony isn’t always truth. People do lie under oath and again I point to Thomas Jefferson’s argument about hearsay. About Jefferson and rape it’s always hard to prove in Court. Usually it turns into a verbal argument with no evidence because the evidence doesn’t last very long so if you do get to prove rape in court you’re lucky.

    Patty C- So because I haven’t graduated college yet that means my opinion is less than yours? What’s your qualifications on the subject matter? At least I will have qualifications at least in another year.

  20. Patty C- So because I haven’t graduated college yet that means my opinion is less than yours? What’s your qualifications on the subject matter? At least I will have qualifications at least in another year.
    ****

    No, it just means you have much to learn. Stick around.

    My qualifications come from my education and my years of professional working experience-in both law and medicine, and my life experience.

  21. Patty C- Well that’s nice and all but doesn’t really mean much to me. I don’t know you. You’re a stranger on a blog. The only person around here with real credibility is Mr. Turley since he can prove things with his qualifications etc. I have been enjoying all of my classes. :) I just finished last term Criminology and aced the course. Of course really enjoying a course helps too…. Hopefully next term I’ll get to take Criminal Law. I can’t wait for that. I was hoping to do it this term but the professor wasn’t teaching it this term on my campus but another one in town sadly. :( The man teaching Criminal Law is a lawyer himself and his son-in-law works for the FBI. I had a class with a guy who was taking the course that term and he said at the end of the term the FBI guy came in and told stories. :) My end goal is to either work with the US Marshals or FBI.

  22. Emily:

    “Are you aware of Thomas Jefferson defending Benedict Arnold on hearsay? Thomas Jefferson argued that in Court you can not hold hearsay in Court against a person based on one person’s testimony. If there was evidence it wouldn’t be called hearsay. Sworn testimony isn’t always truth. People do lie under oath and again I point to Thomas Jefferson’s argument about hearsay. About Jefferson and rape it’s always hard to prove in Court.”

    ***************************
    I applaud your interest in the law, but your history is faulty. While Governor of Virgina in 1781, Jefferson offered a reward of the then-immense sum of $25,000.00 for Arnold’s capture after the traitorous General sacked Richmond. Jefferson, rather than defending Arnold, put a price on his head for his treachery after fleeing town by the way.”

    Hearsay is simply an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted. One cannot “hold” hearsay, it can only be offered. The rule against it is fraught with about 24 exceptions like excited utterances, ancient documents, dying declarations, past recollection recorded, business records, and on and on.

    Sworn testimony is not always truthful, nor are documents (I give you the Yellow Cake Uranimum/Niger fiasco); nor photographs; nor DNA; nor even the words of Presidents. Evidence doesn’t mean ultimate proof; it’s merely testimony or documents or things which TEND to prove an assertion relevant and material to the proceedings at hand. That’s why we have conflicting evidence sometimes. It is for the jury to resolve questions about which evidence is more believable to THEM, and to decide the case. The jury can discard any evidence it deems appropriate and may do so even if the Judge has admitted it to their consideration.

    Keep working hard and enjoying your classes, but you may learn from my painful experiences that in areas where you are just a novice it’s best to first listen, and then to research, and finally to opine instead of the reverse of those actions.

    Lastly the only crime I am aware of that requires two sworn witnesses to convict is treason against the United States* and that may be what you are referring to.

    _______________________

    * Article III, Sec. 3 of the US Constitution provides in relevant part: “[n]o Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” This is the English Two Witness Rule which derives from the 16th century (reign of Edward VI) when treason, like rape, was easy to assert but, quite properly, difficult to prove.

  23. A slave can neither consent nor refuse sexual intercourse with her master. Any sex with a slave would be rape. But since some of these rapists AND slave masters were “Founding Fathers”, feel free to put a good spin on it.

  24. And Dr. Turley; mespo turned my denunciation of spouse and child abusers into a smear of Muslims and Hindus. This is not the sort to be suggesting who should and shouldn’t post on this site.

  25. zak:

    “mespo turned my denunciation of spouse and child abusers into a smear of Muslims and Hindus.”

    *****************

    I guess you didn’t read my comment in your blind rage against anyone who calls you on your prejudice. I said the religiously observant protect these spouse beaters from Sharia and Hindu law. The “smear,” if against anyone, was against the religionists who pervert both.

  26. Mespo: Yes I was referring to Arnold and Jefferson with the treason act when it was claimed he fired and attacked a military base. There was only one eye witness who could confirm the story. If I’m remembering correctly nobody else was actually there who could confirm it except this one person and that’s when Jefferson argued hearsay isn’t acceptable by one person. Did anyone else here buy the insanity plea by the woman Ms Winkler? Personally I did not because she ran away and took her children with her and hid out at a hotel. If she did it in self defense in my unprofessional opinion, why didn’t she run to a family member or a friend she trusted or an abused woman’s shelter? I guess my whole point with Jefferson is that this lady claimed abuse and it’s only HER word we have. What about family, friends, coworkers etc? I guess I’m just surprised that she got off so easily when if she was another color and her husband wasn’t who he was etc. with their family she would probably still be in jail. Not even Britney Spears is getting off this easy.

  27. Im sorry for the tragedy in their family,but I think she did what she had to do.I was in an abuse relationship for 13 years my husband choked me unconscious in front of our 3 year old son,he was so devastated when he saw that.1 month before I thought about buying a gun,butt I didn’t if I had he would have been dead maybe.abuse is terrible I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without my son following me,I had to reassure him mommy was o.k,but we are doing somewhat better.to all thats in any abusive relationship please get help.take care God bless:) xoxo

  28. I was in a horrendously abusive relationship during which I had to children
    I had my the doctor who delivered my second chid perform a tubal ligation on me while I was still on the delivery table without the knowledge of my abuser.I was only 25at the time and when the dr. questioned why I informed him that I would be having a baby every year if I did not get this surgery as it was my abusers belief that I would not be able to escape him if he kept me barefoot and pregnant.Thid was a litreral statement-he often took my one pair if shoes with himmto work and often locked me in the trailer from the outside when he left the house.Today 20 years after my escape I still suffer from severe PTSD and and permenant damage to my spine and brain from the abuse.Sometimes I can’t helped but think if I had killed him during one of the hundreds of brutal attacks I suffered at his psycopathic hands I might not be suffering still to this day the permenant physical effects and mental effects which have caused my being permentally disfigured and disabled.To most this is just a story I tell about my past..but to me it is the thing that altered my life forever.My prayers for any women out there still trapped…

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