Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A "Perfect" Life: Mary Winkler Story

The Conviction

After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated for eight hours on March 22 before announcing the verdict to a hushed Selmer courtroom: Mary Winkler was judged guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

Under Tennessee law, voluntary manslaughter is a crime of passion "produced by adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner."

There was no reaction in the courtroom to the verdict, even though it was filled with the loved ones of both Matthew and Mary Winkler.

Later, after Judge McCraw dismissed the jurors, Mary Winkler hugged her attorneys, her father and other kin in the courtroom.

 Outside court, Matthew's father, Dan Winkler, expressed no anger and revealed little emotion. Instead, he made a polite statement thanking the jurors, judge, prosecutor and police.

The prosecution team, disappointed by the verdict, issued a statement expressing condolences to Matthew Winkler's family.

After the trial's conclusion, defense attorney Farese revealed that Mary Winkler had turned down three plea bargains.

"We were offered 35 years," Farese said. "We were offered 20 years. We were offered 15 years. We're now looking at three to six years. My reaction is the verdict was most probably just."

"There are no winners," added Ballin. "We're left with the memory of Matthew Winkler. And even though there have been a lot of negative things said about him in this trial, there was a good side to him, too. You heard that from Mary, 'He could be so good at times.' This is a case about two people who had a tumultuous marriage of some 10 years that ended in tragedy. Nothing good about it."

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