In 2006 Mary Winkler shot her husband Matthew, a Churches of Christ minister, in the back while she slept. Then she fled the state to a beach before she was capture. A jury in McNairy County, Tennessee believed her story of emotional abuse and only convicted her of voluntary manslaughter. Given her time served, she only had to serve less than 70 more days in prison and be on probation. Later, she received full custody of her three children.
Tonight I watched a “Dateline NBC” special that was sympathetic to Mary’s story of emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of Matthew. The problem, though, is that her testimony cannot be countered by Matthew, since Mary killed the only opposing witness. But the prosecution provided ample evidence in the form of financial documents that showed that Mary was guilty of defrauding several banks. The day the bank scheduled for Mary to come in–with her husband–was the day she shot him.
The report made the usual liberal claim that since the Church of Christ teaches that the husband is the head of the wife, Matthew Winkler must have been domineering over Mary. If the prosecution was right, most or all Church of Christ husbands would be domineering and abusive of their wives. Is there any empirical evidence for this claim? Although I am no longer in the Churches of Christ, I was reared in the Church of Christ and attended two of their educational institutions (David Lipscomb University and Harding University Graduate School of Religion). Even in the most conservative Churches of Christ, I NEVER heard anyone teach that the husband’s headship over the wife implied domination or dictatorship. Often, what Paul said after he affirmed the husband’s headship is quoted: “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” To claim that Church of Christ doctrine implies abusive or dictatorial husbands is pure slander.
What did the jury hear? Empirical evidence of Mary’s shady financial dealings. Evidence that she shot her husband, unplugged the phone and placed it on the floor (anyone who believes that that was done to allow the children to play with it on the floor, is either naive or stupid). There was solid physical evidence of her crime and of a motive. All the jury heard in her defense was her claims that Matthew forced her to wear a wig and high-heeled shoes and to watch pornography as well as having oral and anal sex. Her story has never been consistent over time, ranging from praising Matthew to claiming he was verbally abusive to claims of marital rape to claims of threats of murdering her to claims of Matthew trying to smother her children. Even if Matthew had been verbally abusive, this is no excuse for murder–even if there were more extreme extenuating circumstances, Mary should have been at least given at least five years in prison, preferably more. With definitions of abuse now extended to emotional abuse and a double standard in the courts favoring the woman, a woman who is crafty enough can use this defense to get away with murder. Gentlemen, pray that you are not married to a psychopath, sociopath, or borderline! You may end up dead and watching from heaven as a jury says either “Not Guilty” or “Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter” and your wife gets no jail time.
To me, this case is a no-brainer–any one who thinks rationally and empirically will conclude that Mary Winkler was guilty of first degree murder and receive extensive jail time. I hate to be harsh, but I truly believe that those who would let Mary Winkler off are incapable of allowing their reason to control their emotions–I pray that those individuals are never placed on jury. The Mary Winkler case is a travesty of justice.