Funds disputed in case of slain pastor - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Funds disputed in case of slain pastor

Mary Winkler (right) sits in the courtroom during a recess Monday as her former in-laws speak with an attorney. Mary Winkler (right) sits in the courtroom during a recess Monday as her former in-laws speak with an attorney.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

HUNTINGDON, TN (WMC-TV) - During a hearing Tuesday the father of a slain minister defended his use of donations collected to benefit his grandchildren after their mother was convicted of killing their father.

Mary Winkler was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and is on probation for the 2006 killing of her husband Matthew Winkler in Selmer, Tenn.

Winkler returned to court this week, and wants her former in-laws to repay donations she says were intended for her three daughters. Paternal grandparents Dan and Diane Winkler, of Huntingdon, took temporary custody of their grandchildren after their mother's arrest.

Mary Winkler and her attorneys hauled stacks of financial documents into the Carroll County Courthouse, all records of donations collected by Huntingdon Church of Christ after Winkler murdered her husband back in 2006.

When the hearing resumed Tuesday morning, Pastor Dan Winkler took the stand.  Mary Winkler's attorney, Kay Farese-Turner began with the internet solicitation for donations.

"Did they have permission to use photos of the Winkler Children?" she asked.

"No," Dan Winkler replied, adding he didn't have a problem with the photos being used.

Then, Farese-Turner asked him to read the solicitation.

"It says the money will go to help heal the hearts of the Winkler girls," he read.  He went on to read that the money would also go to counseling and general care, and anything that was left over would go to a college fund.

"I don't know how the trust was spent," he said.

Dan Winkler said repeatedly throughout the day the funds collected did not belong to the children.

"It wasn't the children's money," he said. "It was the church's money."

He often seemed frustrated by the questioning.

"These are not my funds," he said. "You're asking me something I don't know about."

Winkler then explained he also named the Winkler Family Fund the 'Dan and Diane Winkler Designated Fund' so that church fund would not be confused with yet another trust fund set up by another friend in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Farese-Turner also questioned Winkler about his personal banking transactions, alleging improper use of the Winkler Family Fund.

"Did you write a check for $100k from your checking account?" she asked.

Farese-Turner then detailed a list of deposits into Dan Winkler's personal account made in the year and a half after his son was murdered, including $31,000 in gifts.  Mary Winkler's attorney also highlighted a $10,000 check an area church donated to pay for the funeral - money Dan Winkler actually deposited into his personal account.

"I didn't know that was the intent for the money," he said. "It was a gift for me."

Farese-Turner kept questioning Dan Winkler about a $100,000 check he wrote out of his personal checking account.

"Didn't you move $100,000 into a securities account?" she asked.

After much prodding, Winkler eventually said yes, but the reason he moved the money never came out in court.

About a dozen witnesses are standing by in this case, but it's unclear if all 12 will take the stand.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly