Mary Winkler expected to be freed within days, attorney says

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) - A woman convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of her preacher husband is expected to be released from custody this week, her lawyer said Monday.

Attorney Steve Farese Sr. said he expects Mary Winkler to be freed on either Tuesday or Wednesday from the mental health facility where she has been in treatment for about two months.

"I'm waiting to make sure the time is calculated correctly," Farese said. "We've got to make sure we're doing what the judge wants."

Winkler, 33, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 fatal shooting of her husband, Matthew, at the Selmer parsonage where the couple lived with their three young daughters.

She was given a three-year sentence on June 8, but she was required to serve only 67 days in custody because of credit for time in jail before her trial, the nature of the offense and no previous criminal record.

McNairy County Circuit Court Judge Weber McCraw ruled that up to 60 of those 67 days could be served while confined for mental health treatment.

Winkler entered a mental health facility on June 20 after serving 12 days in jail. She will have been in custody for 67 days on Tuesday and will be on probation after her release.

Farese said he did not know what Winkler would do next but said he assumed she would return to McMinnville, where she lived and worked for eight months while she was free on bond before trial.

Paul Pillow, who co-owns the McMinnville dry cleaners where Winkler worked, told the Southern Standard newspaper that he expected her to return to work, though not immediately.

"She has some personal things to take care of, some things with moving and her house, and then she'll probably be back at work in September," he said.

The Winklers lived in McMinnville, where Matthew was a church youth group director, before he took the minister's job at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer.

Winkler had been charged with first-degree murder, but jurors convicted her of the lesser charge after she testified that her husband hit and kicked her, emotionally abused her, forced her to look at pornography and demanded sex she considered unnatural. A psychologist testified she suffered from mild depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She is in a custody fight with her husband's parents over her three daughters.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)