Mar 27, 2006

Can Mary Winkler Get A Fair Trial?

Left: Mary Winkler and defense attorney Steve Farese in Selmer court (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

(Selmer, TN) The arraignment of Mary Winkler was an affair of short duration, lasting a mere six minutes. The media frenzy in this small Tennessee town may last for many, many months.

If nothing else, the local economy of this 4,600-person town should receive quite an infusion of cash.

Even at this early juncture it is clear that this case will likely be the trial of the decade. On my own blog the taffic has increased more than tenfold since I began to devote most of my posts to the Winkler case, and I am recording hits from across the globe.

Given the intense coverage of the crime and its aftermath, the question that begs to be asked is this: can Mary Winkler get a fair trial anywhere on this planet?

News of the alleged confession of Mary Winkler rapidly spread across the blogosphere and the mainstream media Friday afternoon. The few words uttered by police officials at press conferences have been picked apart, and countless theories have emerged as a public with an insatiable thirst for news tries to understand this bizarre saga.

In my day-to-day interactions I have found the Winkler case to be the most-discussed conversation subject, and people I know who normally go through life blissfully unaware of the news (oh, how I envy them) feel the need to weigh in on possible motives for the killing.

Perhaps, though, the best place for this trial to be held is right where it currently stands - in Selmer, Tennessee. Church members and townsfolk have avoided jumping to conclusions about the case, unlike the rest of the world. Furthermore, many people who belong to the Fourth Street Church of Christ have publicly forgiven Mary Winkler.

We might all take our cues from the good people of Selmer.


Anonymous said...

She cannot get a fair trial, especially not in Selmer. Just because a few CofC members say they forgive doesn't mean the rest of those good ole boys will.

Anonymous said...

Those rednecks are good people. They will not judge her too bad.

Stephanie said...

I'd offer my service as a jurist, but I'm a far cry from Tennesse.

historymike said...

Maybe they will start a freelance jurist system and develop professional juries.

Then again, maybe they had better not.

Peterson Toscano said...

We don't yet know the motive behind the murders, (and may never know the whole story) but what if it had something to do with Matthew Winkler being homosexual (or bisexual)?

With the anti-gay sentiment by many in the Church of Christ, is it possible that Mary Winkler might get off for this crime, a gay panic sort of defense?

-Sepp said...

If she can't get a fair trial there, it will be moved to someplace else.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if there was controlling, manipulation, and verbal/emotional abuse at all. This kind of thing seems to run in some Churches of Christ - and usually nobody from the outside ever hears about it or suspects it. I have first-hand experience with this - and it's not something easy to deal with - it can really destroy a person.

historymike said...

I've been reading more about the Church of Christ since this story broke, anonymous, and there are many people who share your view.

My previous familiarity with CofC has been limited to a few acquaintances and relatives who belong to CofC churches. They are just regular people, albeit with a few strict lifestyle admonishments from their ministers.

Note: there is a tremendous difference between "Church of Christ" congregations and the more famous denomination "United Church of Christ." These groups could hardly be more unalike.

Anonymous said...

She will receive just as fair of a trial in Selmer as anywhere else in Tennessee. And it wasn't "just a few CofC members" that expressed forgiveness, it is the entire community. I am a resident of Selmer, TN and the sentiment of our small town is shock and sadness for the ENTIRE family...Matthew, Mary and the children, his parents, her parents, etc. Whatever the motive or where the trial will be held, we need to remember that there are three precious little girls that are now without a mommie or daddie.

Minister's Wife said...

I believe Mary Winkler can get a fair trial that will place her on a higher ground because God is in control. He pulls strings. He does things for us that many would not believe.
As a minister's wife for 27 years who finally got out in 1994 when enough was enough, I am here to testify that God works in mysterious ways and Mary Winker's life can be glorious beyond comparision to what she had as a minister's wife. In my opinion she was probably married to someone who craved the glory that came with the cloth not to say an easy way to make a living -- easy in that a minister in a small church of Christ often has much control of his time even if he does have to move often.
I moved seventeen times and I am happier now than I have ever been. I am just glad I did not have to face what Mary is facing.
There is a reason behind this -- if for no other reason than to cause people to open their eyes to the deadness -- the falseness of church house religion where so much is a show that is discarded at the parsonage doors.

Mike said...

Amen to the above comments by ministers wife. People, including myself have been oppressed and repressed by the Church for way too long. It's not a house built on Love and Compassion but rather, guilt and fear.

Minister's Wife said...

Mike: It sounds like we might be on the same page. I think it is high time that people see that churches are often simply busineses raking in dollars to feather their own nests and very little of the money goes to feed the hungry or those in emotional distress.

Church of Christ Minister said...

To those who are judging the Church of Christ based on the actions of people associated with the Church.
Shame on you and may God have mercy on you.
The Church is not made of people who do not make mistakes, it is people who realize their failures and look to God for mercy and grace.
If she is judged by her peers, she will receive a fair trail.
How come no one condems the actions of non christians as being unfair?

Minister's Wife said...

I admire your courage. You may be one more part of the problem we are talking about here.
You are getting a pay check, no doubt, for your pulpit ministry.
Having served 27 years as a minister's wife, before I broke the traces, 11 years ago, I've seen the inside so there's no need to try to tell me how it really is!

Minister's Wife said...

Shame on you, Church of Christ minister. You are trying to use guilt on us but it don't work anymore.
Thank you!

tn_longhunter said...

Mary Winkler has already garnered an unexpected amount of sympathy and support from our community, and a genuine forgiveness. Any change in venue would not be to her best interest. None of us that live in McNairy have any idea what may have driven her to commit such an act and can only wait as the facts leading to this trajedy unfold in court.
Our community has just gotten past the trial of our sheriff, head jailer and a jailer. Those trials resulted in resignations and a conviction. Now we are again faced with having the nation and world focusing in on our lives.
One of your posters tagged as "rednecks". Granted, we do enjoy a simpler lifestyle and probably twice the quality of life as most arrogant, smarta$$ yankee ba$tard$ that beleive their 8th grade education is superior to any level of Southern education, but that is another topic.
Mary Winkler has the support of the community, a fact quickly recognized by her lawyers.

Stephanie said...


"Then again, maybe they had better not."

Please don't give them any ideas. Professional jurists...? Our criminal system is corrupt enough, we don't need to exacerbate the situation!

Stephanie said...

Being overly sympathetic doesn't necessarily make for a fair trial either.

historymike said...

I left the "redneck" epithet untouched because the poster seemed to use it in a positive manner.

I have relatives in northern Georgia (Blairsville) and Tennessee (Nashville). My dad was born in one of the most remote places in the eastern United States. His hometown, appropriately enough, is named Appalachia, VA.

I am the product of a Southern heritage, and I have great respect for the region.

Now, as for those horrid, inbred monsters in the Yukon...

(just kidding, Yukonites!)

GRM in Knoxville said...

I am familiar with the town of Selmer and am not concerned about whether Mary Winkler can get a fair trial. Rather, I wonder whether the Prosecution can get a fair trial! The way that Winkler's family and the church there has handled this and responded to Mary Winkler has been nothing short of incredible and wonderful -- True Christianity in action.

Minister's Wife said...

I have talked with some of the church members there in Selmer and I will have to agree. They appear to be a very loving group of people.
One member told me that they are going to stand behind Mary all of the way.
This dear sweet member told me that she wished that she could just hold Mary.
I found out today that Mary's mother is deceased.
I truly believe something good is going to come out of what looks like a sad situation. God does work in mysterious ways.
I believe in God very strongly I just do not believe in so much of what goes on in the name of religion. I think the false holiness that is often displayed must make God sick.

historymike said...

Good point, grm in Knoxville.

The Fourth Street Church of Christ has consistently demonstrated Christ-like behavior in publicly forgiving Mary Winkler, and the rest of Selmer has been equally fair.

The loudest voices condemning Mary, or attacking the memory of Matthew, are not coming from Selmer.

Anonymous said...

The 4th Street Church of Christ should be commended for their dedication to demonstrating Christ's love. No one has come forward to say anything negative nor even to speculate. I admire this Church and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posters who have pointed out that the 4th Street Church is showing Christianity by its actions in regard to the Winkler family. And I think the Winkler family has been great through all this. To anyone who knows them, though, that's not surprising.

To anyone who thinks the life of a minister who is doing God's work is easy--they simply don't know what they're talking about. Sure, there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but that's true of every profession. The ministers I have known personally--and I have known a lot, including my own father--do a lot of good work for which they're never recognized, but they don't care about that. They're doing the good work because it's the correct thing to do.

The churches I have attended in my life have always been ready to help people with their physical, spiritual and emotional needs.

Anonymous said...

I believe, this is not a religious issue!!!! No need to critize religion. Let's just dig alittle deeper here: Look at all the facts head on. Before you make posts to this site: please: read this: US DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS - PTSD- Criminal Behavior. Look for sub-heading: How is PTSD related to criminal behavior. Just maybe, she could have been suffering this. Pray for Mary Winkler!!!!!

pp said...

church member or not? the fact is she murdered someone................what about the dead man? i don't hear anyone feeling sympathy for a dead person, father of three children.......what about him? and if he was an abuser, did she ever seek help? no......she murdered one seems to know there were any problems, and i am sure, in a small town, if there had been, SOMEONE would have known.......................

Anonymous said...

I am not a member of the Church of Christ but I know first hand how truly kind and forgiving they can be. I would take their statements of forgiveness at face value. A trajedy like this can occur in any segment of the population and it is wrong to use this shooting as an opportunity to get at one's religious or ideological opponents

Anonymous said...

She stands a pretty good chance of getting a fair trial. Some folks over-estimate the role that a pastor plays in such a small town. I doubt the "good old boys" are going to be that prejudicial simply because the victim would probably still be considered an outsider. They had only been there a year. My experience has been that churches in areas like that tend to get a new pastor every 2-5 years for a variety of reasons.
It would be different if the victim were a favorite son in the community, but it doesn't sound like he is. I bet a jury could be pretty objective about it. The state won't seat any CoC members that would have known the couple anyway.