Preacher's wife says husband abused her, but shooting accidental

A preacher's wife testified at her murder trial Wednesday that her husband abused her physically and sexually, but she said the shotgun fired accidentally as she pointed it at him in their parsonage bedroom.

Mary Winkler walked up to the stand to testify in her own defense. Her family was in the courtroom as Mary told the jury about the morning she shot Matthew in the back as he slept.

The day started with the couple's young daughter crying.

"Matthew kicked me out of bed. He kicked me in the low of my back and kicked me to the floor with his foot."

Mary said Matthew then went to the baby's room and started pinching her nose then he went back to bed.

She said she just wanted to talk to her husband, Matthew, when she went into their bedroom that day in March 2006, but she was too terrified.

"I was going to make coffee but I wanted to talk to Matthew. I just wanted him to stop being so mean," explained a tearful Winkler.

"He just could be so mean," she said. But, she told Freeland, her husband did nothing for which he deserved to die.

Mary Winkler heard a "boom" but she said she did not pull the trigger, prompting prosecutor Walt Freeland to ask her later if she understood how a trigger worked.

"You know that pulling a trigger is what makes it go boom?" Freeland asked. "Yes, sir," Mary Winkler replied.

When asked if she remembered getting the gun, Winkler said no. However, she did say she remembers having a gun.

Winkler says that she does not remember pulling the trigger.

But she does remember an awful smell. She ran out of the room then went back.

"Matthew was laying there on his back. He was dead," said Winkler.

Winkler said she gathered up her children and drove off.


to email Janice Broach.