Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mary Winkler says killing her minister husband was an accident: "Defense: Woman pointed shotgun at abusive spouse ‘to get his attention.’" Well, I guess she got his attention, but last time I looked, shooting someone to get their attention was still illegal, but maybe not if you have these gems on the jury:

The trial could last up to two weeks. The jury — including a Baptist minister and woman who said she had been a victim of domestic abuse — will spend that time sequestered in a small-town motel without television, radio or cell phones.

I am always amazed at jury selection in these cases, I guess Winkler really will be tried by a jury of peers. I just wonder if someone who is a Baptist minister or a woman who has been abused herself will be capable of putting his or her feelings aside and being objective? I suppose being a minister could go either way, however, since the murder victim was a preacher. What do you think, will she get off or spend some time behind bars?



Blogger Purple Avenger said...

Accidentally loaded it.
Accidentally put her finger in the trigger guard.
Accidentally pulled the trigger.

I'm always amazed that any jury would buy these lame stories about firearms accidents.

There have been a small handful of designs that were inherently dangerous and unsafe. If this shotgun wasn't one of them, then I'm pretty skeptical.

9:33 PM, April 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think she'll do time but probably not hard time.

Not sure about the shotgun issue. People do stupid things with firearms all the time.

10:48 PM, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Albatross said...

Every shotgun I have used has had a safety. So the sequence would have been 1) load, 2) take safety off, 3) put finger in trigger guard, 4) pull trigger. All accidentally. (By the way, simply "pointing" a weapon at someone as an attention-getter need not involve any of the steps above.)

But, to answer Dr. Helen's question, I think she will get off. The defense just needs to paint the husband as a jerk.

11:58 PM, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think she'll get off. I do not believe it is possible to have a fair trial once woman-abuse has been raised.

I wonder what the odds are that she was abused? Was the abuser? I'd really like to know what the percentage of women who claim abuse as a reason for killing their husband who really are themselves the abuser?

3:26 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger The Skald said...

I'm uncertain why anyone would think that all of the steps leading up to pulling the trigger need be an accident. That is simply not the case.

Given a car accident, it need not be an accident the person got in the car, an accident s/he started the car, an accident s/he put the car in gear... only that s/he accidently hit somebody.

One can deliberately load a weapon, chamber a round, release the safety, with absolutely no intention of shooting another human being.

Though I'm not saying what she did was an accident, I am saying that presuming the steps up to that action must be accidental simply isn't reasonable.


3:38 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

3 to 5 years is my bet, if not a dismissal.

if you have a gun, and you point it and its loaded, you automatically are prepared to use it. how can it be an accident, she wouldnt have picked up the gun, if she didnt want to do it.

5:11 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you can make an analogy between getting in/starting/driving your car and then getting into an accident with loading a gun/chambering a round/taking off the safety of a gun and then having an "accident." Your purpose in getting into the car is to go somewhere. Your purpose in loading a gun is preparing to shoot something.

Obviously, people get shot by accident. However, if you have loaded, chambered, and taken off the safety of a gun to "threaten" someone, it's a lot harder to prove you had no intent to shoot than if you accidentally hit someone with your car.

Amy K.

5:53 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would guess a short time in prison.

I can see how it really could have been an accident if they had a gun in the house for protection - yet, the woman really did not know how to use it. If she was genuinely afraid of her husband, she may have been desperate to keep him away. A lot of things can happen if emotions are high. Who knows what went on. I have to agree with Dr. Helen on the selection of the jury though. Hmm, does not seem to make a lot of sense to me.

6:14 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only read a a few articles on the details of the case, but my guess would be that she will be found guilty and face some prison time. However innocent, the photographs from her recent outing to a local bar did not help her public image. Small town + generally conservative residents+ influence of Baptists= a tough jury for the defense to face.

6:48 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Battered woman have been given some leeway in the past.
Several governors, most notably Governor Richard Celeste of Ohio, have issued pardons to battered women who were serving long prison sentences for killing their abusers in self–defense. See Linda L. Ammons, Discretionary Justice: A Legal and Policy Analysis of a Governor's Use of the Clemency Power in the Cases of Incarcerated Battered Women, 3 J.L. & Pol'y 1, 2–3 (1994) (noting Governor Celeste's grant of leniency to 28 women incarcerated for crimes committed in connection with domestic violence). Professor Ammons served as Executive Assistant to Governor Celeste from 1988–1991 and was primarily responsible for implementing the Ohio clemency project. See id. at 3 n.3; see also Christine Noelle Becker, Comment, Clemency For Killers? Pardoning Battered Women Who Strike Back, 29 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 297, 306–07 (1995) (stating that Governor Celeste granted clemency to 27 women in December 1990 and that Governor William Donald Schaefer of Maryland pardoned eight women in February 1991).

I remembered that Gov. Schaefer had pardoned women - not all of whom were in immediate danger - for killing an abusive spouse. So if she makes the case that she was abused, she could get off.

9:54 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had she claimed that she shot him because she was in fear for her life, it might have been considered self-defense. But she screwed herself with her lame explanation, because the DA can claim she wasn't in fear for her life if she was just trying to "scare" him. A classic example of what NOT to do when using deadly force to defend yourself. And besides, there are a lot of fishy circumstances in this case.

10:33 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

She shot him in the back. To get someone's attention with a visible prop, they have to be looking at you.

According to this Nancy Grace transcript the telephone cord was ripped out of the wall making it impossible for Mr. Winkler to call for help. Read the transcript, it's quite enlightening.

Winkler had claimed mental abuse. Is she still claiming that. Google "Mary Winkle kill husband" and you'll easily see how many feminsits think it's just fine to kill your husband and claim abuse.

Warning to all guys, be really, really nice to your significant other or she can kill you and walk.

10:46 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can claim abuse, that is easy. Demonstrating abuse requires witnesses instead of a claim by the defendant or hearsay. This is small town Tennessee, I think that she does 12 to 20. And I think she deserves every minute.

While the "accidental" shooting in the back strains credulity, her ripping out the phone cord and leving the state with her children breaks credulity. The prosecution has brought up that she was depositing bad checks and there was somethign going on with the family finances that has her signatures all over it.

12 to 20.


11:15 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

Warning to all guys, be really, really nice to your significant other or she can kill you and walk.

I warn my husband about this all the time. It is foremost in my mind anytime he won't let me buy some shoes.

But seriously... if he was about to beat the sh** out of her, shoot away, Mary. Otherwise, she should rot in prison like anyone else.

11:23 AM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Kel said...

She'll get off scot free. I served on a jury recently and it was a terrible lesson in the degree to which moral relativism has infected our mentality. Juries say they'll disregard their biases, but they never do. Juries don't like to decide the "guilt" of a person, because they don't believe in "truth" at all. The only time a jury will convict is if the person believes in such things as objective right and wrong.

It is objectively wrong to kill your husband, even if you're abused. Murder is not the same as self-defense or accidental discharge of a gun. This looks like a clear case of murder. Will she get off? Of course.

12:08 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hollywood teaches us that the proper way to get somebody's attention with a pump shotgun is to work the action once, making that scary 'rack-rack' sound. This method works even when the subject's back is turned. Of course, if you do that with your finger on the trigger and the safety off, your results may vary.

Next lesson: How to shoot down helicopters at two hundred yards using a snub-nosed .38.

12:14 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF you posed to the people -- obscuring genders -- that someone was forcing the other to "talk" at the point of a shotgun and then asked, "which one's the abusive one?"

What would the answer be?

It amazes me how killing someone isn't necessarily de facto evidence of violent or controlling tendencies.

12:22 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But to answer the question...

I think she'll probably end up doing time.

If you look at the Clara Harris case and similar cases, basically what they do is drag the dead man's name and reputation through the mud, garner the worst kind of sympathy from the general public, confirm once again that most think women are like children and men are morally inferior beings...

....and then go off to jail like they would have anyway. Hopefully, justice will prevail and she'll get locked up.

And if I may be so prejudiced, I watched some of the footage from yesterday, and many of her mannerisms and facial expressions portrayed, to me anyway, someone who likely has some kind of personality disorder.

My personal hypothesis is that most abusive relationship behavior, male or female, begins with a personality disorder.

12:26 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as the jury goes, stating that a particular group is a bad jury is hard to do without knowing the composition of the panel to begin with.

Prosecution and defense have unlimited challenges for cause and each side has peremptory challenges, which can be made for any reason, except for race.

It might be that the stricken panel members were even more unacceptable to one side or the other than the ones who eventually made it on to the jury.

1:11 PM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Joe said...

First, the trial is there to determine guilt or innocence, the penalty phase is to determine punishment. Unfortunately, our court system has gotten all screwed up in popular opinion, thus actual practice, in this distinction.

Second, I have not seen a full set of facts to determine guilt or innocence. IF her life or those of her children were in imminent danger or he was sexually abusing the children, I'd vote not-guilty.

Otherwise, I'd have to wrestle with the facts of the case. If the article is correct, this was one messed up relationship. Using a gun to threaten the other appeared to be commonplace. My tentative conclusion is that she's guilty of voluntary manslaughter and should serve some jail time, the real question being how much.

1:24 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children being sexually abused is not reason to kill the perpetrator. I would want to kill the perp, but it is not justification for taking a life. Self-defence or defense of the child from emminent harm would be necessary to invoke self-defense.


3:58 PM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

Children being sexually abused is not reason to kill the perpetrator. I would want to kill the perp, but it is not justification for taking a life.

Wow, I strongly disagree. I believe the sexual abuse of children should be one of the most harshly punished crimes.

I'm no psychiatrist, but it's my understanding that a large percentage of pedophiles were themselves sexually abused as kids, who then grow up to abuse other children. Therefore, these people aren't just hurting their direct victims; they are potentially creating an exponential number of victims stretching out into the future.

It's pretty a pretty unique and abominable crime in that sense, and our justice system just lets them out again and again.

I'd say that our collective urge to "want to kill the perp" is deeply rooted and instinctive for good reason.

(*Not saying that this particular guy was a pedophile, I'm only addressing the hypothetical.)

4:44 PM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Who is going to spend more time in jail, Mrs. Winkler or that jury?

6:17 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband has been to Selmer on business since the shooting and thinks she's going to do time. Of course, that's only based on what he overheard around town while eating outand that kind of thing, but presumably he was overhearing the potential jury pool.
Personally, I think if she hadn't run with the kids, it would have been easier to claim abuse. She made it look deliberate. I would do either/or to get out of an abusive situation. I'd either shoot or run away, but not both.
Having lived with an abusive dad, I can believe that the whole town would not have known abuse was happening in the home, but I don't think it justifies murder.

6:41 PM, April 13, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Accident...riiiiiigggght. Thats why instead of calling an ambulance she ripped the phonecord out of the wall and fled with her children.

7:08 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She panicked!

9:03 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who can predict juries these days? There was a time when I could confidently predict punishment for certain crimes but I don't feel that way now. Juries are more willing to accept excuses than they once were.

9:47 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She bragged about her "ugly comming out"

11:07 PM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Around here, using a gun to scare someone--which I suspect she meant by "get his attention"--is aggravated assault, itself a felony punishable by 10-1/2+ years. Has she been charged with that, or just murder?

I haven't been following the case, so I'm asking: Do we know for sure which one of them messed with the phone?

I doubt she'll do much time, if any, for some of the reasons others have given.

1:23 AM, April 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Knoxwhirled, I am not opposed to child abusers getting the death penalty, but I am opposed to them being killed by citizens. I do not think that child abuse justifies vigilante justice. I don't think anything does.

I understand, and have felt the urge for revenge, but I think that legal punishment is the best avenue. I am currently looking for a sponsor for legislation that would give life imprisonment to people who sexually abuse more than one victim, or repeat offend against the same victim after "treatment" or previous incarceration.

Killing an intruder in your home is not vigilante justice. Using a weapon to subdue someone who is perping your family in your home is not either. But I don't think it would be morally or legally justified to hunt down and kill a child abuser.

What do you think?


1:29 AM, April 14, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

problem is, what if they are innocent, and you execute them. you cant bring them back to life.

not that i am condoning it, just saying you have to have absolute proof. theres been cases of false child abuse, the people arrested, and their lives ruined,

the mcmartin preschool, the rochdale satanic abuse cases, the fall acres day care centre, kern county, the wee care nursery school, clevland (uk)

without absolute proof of wrong doing, you may kill an innocent person, it could be your brother or father or son, look at the evans and christie case an innocent man was executed by the state. or is it a case of its better one innocent man is executed than 2 guilty people set free.

you have to be careful about false allegations, and guilt.

once again i say, i am not saying pedophiles are good people, hell if i had proof, absolute proof, i would be willing to kill them myself. allegations without evidence, are not worth the paper they are written on.

DEATH if final, there is no way to bring a person back to life. so you have to be extremely careful

7:00 AM, April 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a case just recently where a father thought his neighbor had molested his little girl and shot him, only to discover it was a misunderstanding? I Googled, but couldn't find it. (Unfortunately, Googling stuff like 'molested daughter neighbor killed revenge' yields too many results to be useful.)

1:36 PM, April 14, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

unless there is genetic proof, semen smears, photographs, witnesses etc, the evidence has to be much higher in cases of suspected abuse, which is how it should be, if all these proofs, show difinitive guilt, then i say let them fry.

but with slight doubts, should come prison time, if it just relies on one persons testimony then you have to question, it deeper. how would you feel if your brother or son, or father or husband was accused, and put in prison for a crime YOU KNEW he didnt do but had no proof, would you want to see him executed. or killed by mob justice, on dubious say so.

bugs was this the article (redone as a tiny url)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. Aug. 30 — A patent lawyer in this suburb was released on $1 million bond Wednesday, two days after, the police say, he broke into the home of a next-door neighbor and fatally stabbed him after a relative told him that his 2-year-old daughter had been molested by the neighbor.

3:45 PM, April 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the one. Thanks.

9:36 PM, April 14, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

What do you think?

First of all, I agree that mandatory life without parole would be great--"two strikes and you're out," so to speak. There is certainly an awareness that recidivism is a big problem with child molesters, or the authorities wouldn't force them to register when they're released. It's as if the system *knows* these people are still a danger---but let them out anyway.

In theory, I too am against what you call "vigilantism" (and I'm certainly against running out and killing someone without being certain of their guilt.) But I almost feel like, in the context of child molestation, the justice system has forfeited its moral authority. You can almost be certain the crime will be dealt with lightly.

As a result, I simply can't bring myself to disapprove if someone were to "take action" against the molester if their kids were victimized.

10:46 AM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

Dr. Helen:

By any chance do you know if the recidivism rates for these crimes really are as high as we laypeople are led to believe in popular culture?


10:47 AM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fervently wish my Mother had had the courage to do what Mary Winkler did. Five children would have a mother now if she had.

12:09 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I assume you are talking about the recidivism rates of sex offenders. You are right that the general public believes that sex offenders re-offend almost 100% of the time.

Reviews of the literature, however, show base rates to be anywhere from 0% to 50%. Conservative estimates, based on reconvictions over a five-year period, indicate an overall recidivism rate for sex offender of 13.4%, with an 18.9% rate for rapists and 12.7% for child molesters (Hanson & Bussiere, Journal of Clinical and Clinical Psychology, 1998). Keep in mind though, that these rates are for those who are convicted, many sex offenses are not reported. There are also other methodological problems with the way the base rates are established, so it is very hard to determine the exact number or percentage of those who re-offend.

1:42 PM, April 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:09:

I guess then perhaps we ought to evolve into a society where a woman, once pregnant, kills the father of the child as a matter of protecting herself and her offspring.

You know, stupid comments like this ignore the very possibility that Winkler could just as well have drowned her children a la Andrea Yates.

While you have my sympathy for your loss, your comment leads me to believe that you believe that men are the problem. I'm afraid you're concentrating on your own case and ignoring the very real propensity for women to be as abusive as men to their spouses.

11:15 AM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think "my ugly came out" was "bragging." To me it sounds infantile. I visualize a young woman brought up to be "nice" at all costs, who got into a marriage where appearance was all and where g-d/male/husband were intertwined, and who was still thinking like a little girl who had to be "pretty" in all ways.

8:16 AM, April 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

both my husband's and my parents were preachers and theri wives. My husband's father caused the death of his mother. Where the couple moves from church to church every few years, the preacher has the respect of being the one hired and a man of God, so he is important. Locals see themselves as important. If the couple is relatively new to the area, the preacher's wife has no support system locally and work she does for the church is unpaid and unnoticed, so she is not important.
In the case of my in-laws, my husband's father and "the other woman" were suspected of murdering my husband's mother, but the tiny town didn't want the bad publicity, the denomination didn't want the bad publicity and police were told she had no relatives. We were told she died of a heart attack and went to her funeral where her body was sent in a different state from the one where she died. Years later, when the heart-attack thing just seemed wrong, we phoned the Police station of the little town where she died and asked how to get a death certificate. When we said who we were they put us right through to the Police Chief.
He sent us the police report and is convinced as are we that my husband's father murdered my husband's mother. Everything fits. Nothing else fits. Believe me, a preacher's wife could be murdered and if the preacher did it, he would get away with it. Since it is obvious that it could happen, it probably has.
No two cases are alike -- it is always possible that in the Winkler case she killed him for no reason, but in general preachers have too much moral authority and their wives have too little.

4:02 PM, April 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At a time in society where we have witnessed some of the most outrageous cases of spousal abuse against women(OJ, regardless of what you believe about his guilt or innocence, Scott Peterson, and even the individual that recently killed his ex-girlfriend and via his own confession, cooked her on the barbeque grill.) it is extremely plausible to believe that she will be acquitted, or convicted on a lesser charge than 1st or second degree murder. Many view her as a woman that was not willing to wait to become a fatal statistic, others will consider her to be a staunch protector of her children. Regardless of that however, it seems that there were a number of options available to her other than murdering her husband (i.e divorce, calling the police, etc.)to shoot him in the back with a shotgun and then claim that she accidentally shot him becuase she was distressed forces the boundaries of "reasonable doubt" into the land of "infinite possibility," if our society is not careful, the precedents that we are setting will make it virtually impossible to convict anyone shy of a videotape of the crime.

Let's think reasonably, our society requires it. Mary Winkler should be convicted and committed to an institution for psychological and social help. Maybe not for 51 years, but for a considerable period of time.

2:46 PM, April 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Individuals who are members of fundamentalist churches are often prone to treat their wives and children as women and children are treated in the middle east; as women were treated during "Bible times in the New Test. Wives & children must be submissive at all times. The churches preach women should "Keep silent in the churches." If the wife has a comment, question, or opinion, she should go home & discuss it with her husband; he,in turn will bring it before the elders and deacons of the church if the issue is of a nature that the father may need guidence or need to inform the congregation of the situation at hand. It is easy to see that such conduct breeds over-control on the male partner's part which can lead to abusive treatment of the family and resentment of the wife and children.

9:21 PM, April 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, any man who is physically, mentally, or sexually abusive to his wife, girlfriend, or child DESERVES TO BE SHOT!!!

4:01 AM, May 25, 2007  
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