Funds disputed in Winkler case - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

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Funds disputed in Winkler case

Mary Winkler walks into court. Mary Winkler walks into court.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

HUNTINGDON, TN (WMC-TV) - Mary Winkler, convicted of killing her minister husband, was in court Monday after filing motions against her former in-laws saying they inappropriately used money collected to benefit her children.

Mary Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and is on probation for the 2006 killing of her husband Matthew Winkler in Selmer, Tenn. After Winkler was arrested, her daughters' paternal grandparents took temporary custody of Winklers three daughters. Their church established the Winkler Family Fund and collected more than $200,000.

Winkler, who has regained custody of the children, returned to court Monday in Huntingdon for a hearing to ask for restitution of the funds.

Winkler was mum as she sauntered into Carroll County Chancery Court with highlights in her hair, French manicured nails, and dangling earrings - a vast contrast to her murder trial.

Her attorney, Kay Farese-Turner, said a fund for Winkler's three daughters is being used inappropriately by her dead husband's parents, and that they're hiding the paper trail.

"We didn't even know about this fund and now the money's gone and they won't show us the documents?" she asked.

Dan and Diane Winkler's attorney, Greg Smith, said they're not hiding anything. According to Smith, the couple's church, Huntington Church of Christ, collected a $226,000 Winkler Family Fund, and church elders had the right to determine how it was spent.

"Does not and never has belonged to the children," Smith said. "It belongs to the church."

Smith said much of the money went to attorney fees, to try to put Mary Winkler away for her husband's murder, and none of the 239 people who donated the money have complained about where it went.

They also used the money to take the girls to Disney World, buy school items, clothing and furniture for the girls, and to pay for Matthew Winkler's funeral.

"I'll remind the court that Ms. Winkler shot and killed her husband in March of 2006," Smith said.

Mary Winkler's attorneys claimed to have proof of unexplained cash withdrawals from Dan Winkler, and noted $98,000 in legal fees.

In court, it was also revealed there are two other funds:  On top of the church fund, the children will receive a $535,000 life insurance policy for Matthew Winkler's death.  That money is already under the control of the court, but there's also a second trust fund set up by yet another friend of Dan and Diane Winkler.

Bill Looney is the attorney for that trust.

"If we've done anything wrong, sue us," Looney said. "Show us what we've done wrong."

Looney said it's unclear how much was collected, but said it's a small amount, maybe $11,000.  He told the court that money will be used to take care of the children.

The judge has not ruled if that fund will become part of the court case.

At the end of the day, Mary Winkler had no comment about the day's proceedings.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  The AP contributed to this report.

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