- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2007

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) — A preacher’s wife told authorities she shot her husband after a long buildup of domestic problems, according to an audiotape that prosecutors played yesterday at her murder trial.

Mary Winkler, 33, can be heard crying as she is questioned by Alabama investigators a day after her husband, Matthew Winkler, was found fatally shot in the parsonage of his church in this western Tennessee town.

His wife was arrested a day later on the Alabama coast, about 340 miles away, with the couple’s three young daughters on hand.

Investigators have said she admitted shooting her husband on March 22, 2006, and that it had something to do with his constant criticisms. On the tape, she said the couple’s domestic problems had reached a breaking point after many years of conflict.

“It’s just a lot of stupid stuff,” she said. “I love him dearly but, gosh, he just nailed me in the ground. … The first of our marriage, I just took it like a mouse, didn’t think anything different. My mom just took it from my dad — that stupid scenario.”

But Mrs. Winkler said she got a job at the post office and that experience taught her to stand up for herself. “That’s the problem. I have nerve now, and I have self-esteem. My ugly came out.”

Mrs. Winkler told Alabama Bureau of Investigation Agent Stan Stabler on the tape that her husband had threatened her physically. “He said something that really scared me. I don’t know, something life-threatening,” she said, without elaborating.

But she also said she doesn’t want her husband’s name smeared.

“He was so good, so good, too. It was just a weakness. I think a lot of times he had high blood pressure that he’d never go enough to the doctor to get medicine for it. He was a mighty fine person, and that’s the thing,” she said.

Mrs. Winkler she had intended to hold her husband at gunpoint only to force him to talk about his personal problems after a situation involving their 1-year-old daughter, Breanna, defense attorney Steve Farese said. He did not describe the situation.

Prosecutor Walt Freeland has said bank managers were closing in on a check-kiting scheme that Mrs. Winkler wanted to conceal from her husband. He said she had become caught up in a swindle known as the “Nigerian scam,” which promises riches to victims who send money to cover the processing expenses.


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