Carol Platt Liebau: Why is Mary Winkler free?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why is Mary Winkler free?

Is this an example of justice served? I think not:
(CNN) -- After spending a total of seven months in custody, the Tennessee woman who fatally shot her preacher husband in the back was released on Tuesday, her lawyer told CNN.

Mary Winkler, a 33-year-old mother of three girls, was freed from a Tennessee mental health facility where she was treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, lawyer Steve Farese said.

"She is out," Farese said.

Farese said his client will not talk to the news media because she continues to wage a legal battle to win custody of her girls and faces a $2 million civil suit filed by the parents of her slain husband, Matthew Winkler.

Except for her oldest daughter's brief testimony at her trial, Winkler hasn't seen her children in a year, the lawyer said.

Winkler will return to work at the dry cleaners in McMinnville, Tennessee, where she worked before the trial, Farese said. She is living with friends.

Winkler served about five months in county jail as she awaited trial, then spent two months undergoing therapy at the mental health facility following her conviction for voluntary manslaughter.

Winkler never denied shooting her husband, Matthew, the popular new preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, a town of 4,500 people about 80 miles east of Memphis.

[...]

Mary Winkler was charged with murder, which could have sent her to prison for up to 60 years, but a jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter following an emotional trial in which she testified about suffering years of verbal and physical abuse.

In a statement to police after her arrest, Winkler said she didn't recall pulling the trigger .She said she apologized and wiped the blood that bubbled from her dying husband's lips as he asked, "Why?"

Prosecutors and Matthew Winkler's family members said he was a good husband and father.

But on the stand, Mary Winkler described a hellish 10-year marriage during which, she said, her husband struck her, screamed at her, criticized her and blamed her when things went wrong. She said he made her watch pornography and wear "slutty" costumes for sex, and that he forced her to submit to sex acts that made her uncomfortable.

She testified she pointed the shotgun at her husband during an argument to force him to talk through their problems, and "something went off."

A defense psychologist testified that she was depressed and showed classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mary Winkler initially received a three-year sentence in June. But Circuit Court Judge J. Weber McCraw required that she serve only 210 days, and allowed her to serve the rest of the time on probation.

She also received credit for five months she spent behind bars awaiting trial, which left only about 60 days to her sentence. McCraw ruled she could serve the time in a mental health facility.

I want you to imagine the situations reversed, where the man went through emotional and physical abuse for years from a dominating wife and then one day just snapped and killed her. Do you think the justice system would have shown as much leniency for him? It sounds like Mary Winkler went through hell (assuming what she testified to was true) but that is no excuse for her only serving seven months (67 days to be exact) in police custody for the murder of her husband.

Now she's getting ready to return to her old job, and wants custody of her kids again, almost as smoothly as if she had never fired a shot.

Tammy Bruce writes:
I remember to good ol' days when a normal person's response to things like that would be called "getting a divorce." Men, of course, usually don't have the luxury of using the "she deserved it" excuse to get away with murder, but I'm sure we're not too far away from days like that if we continue on this path. It's possible to reverse the moral relativism gripping our society, but we've got to reverse the left's impact on the academy, the media, and the justice system. Tall orders, I know, but the future of our nation is worth it.

Amen.

Cross-posted at the Sister Toldjah blog.

14 Comments:

Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Who are you to judge this woman? Did you attend her trial? Did you study all the investigation reports? Did you read the various psychiatric reports? Did you read the rulings of the judge? Have you participated in the many psychiatric evaluations that were made of this woman?

Of course not. You cannot possibly know the huge volume of information generated by this case, yet you presume that your own poorly-informed judgement is superior to that of the many people who spent thousands of hours working on this case and participated in the final decision.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Domestic abuse cases can be very nasty and complicated. Justice is best administered in a court of law with a judge and jury, not by the peanut gallery that lacks much of the evidence and facts.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

This song about "you don't have all the facts" is starting to sound very familiar.

One can apply the same logic to the determination by the White House that Saddam had WMD: "You cannot possibly know the huge volume of information generated by this case, yet you presume that your own poorly-informed judgement is superior to that of the many people who spent thousands of hours working on this case and participated in the final decision."

The fact is the woman voluntarily killed her husband, did not establish -- or even claim -- self-defense and served only a few months.

This doesn't seem right on its face. It seems more likely that the judge allowed a spousal abuse defense and the jury bought it.

Chepe must admit that juries do not always get things right. Maybe this is one of those cases, maybe not. The larger question is to what extent spousal abuse should be permitted as an excuse or mitigating element and what safeguards should be placed on the admission of evidence essentially demonizing a decedent who cannot speak on his own behalf.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

This song about "you don't have all the facts" is starting to sound very familiar.

I hope that the familiarity is starting to have an effect. Getting one's facts straight is the first step in a logical analysis.

One can apply the same logic to the determination by the White House that Saddam had WMD:

Yep, at the time, we simply had to trust our President to tell the truth. I was skeptical because there was so much contradictory evidence. However, the President said there were WMD and so most people believed him. The difference between the cases is that now we know better; now we know that there weren't any WMD. If in fact evidence arises in the future that this woman's behavior was not as testified, then you can say, "Aha! I was right and all the experts were wrong!" But until that day...

This doesn't seem right on its face.

Then perhaps you should delve into the details of the case -- unless, of course, you're happy to condemn this woman based on the thinnest of acquaintances with the case.

Chepe must admit that juries do not always get things right.

Indeed so. Do you have any better scheme for determining guilt or innocence?

The larger question is to what extent spousal abuse should be permitted as an excuse or mitigating element and what safeguards should be placed on the admission of evidence essentially demonizing a decedent who cannot speak on his own behalf.

I agree entirely. So tell me, to what extent was spousal abuse permitted as a mitigating element in this case? What safeguards were in place on the admission of evidence demonizing a person who cannot speak on his own behalf? Were these safeguards inadequate?

10:39 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Coyote, there is enough in the public record for many to decide Bush cherry picked the intelligence and fixed what little he had, from such nefarious characters as Curveball and Chalibi, to launch an unnecessary war.

It is a bit strange that you would attempt to defend your authoritarian figure via some domestic violence case that everyone here is unfamiliar with.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

"I hope that the familiarity is starting to have an effect."

It most certainly has, but not the one you intend.

In this particular case, the issue is whether the facts, to the extent currently known by Carol, are sufficient to support her point. Her point concerns the extent to which spousal abuse should mitigate the severity of the crime or punishment.

Your comment on the WMD is inapposite. The issue you previously argued was not whether there were WMD, but whether the Bush Administration lied about it.
You say, "now we know better" without requiring the level independent study of the issue you require of Carol here. In addition, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which did put in the time you require, found mistakes but not mendacity. By your own stadarrds, you must hold to the conclusion of that Group.

Your comments would have greater weight if you held yourself to the same standard of study to which you hold others and calibrate the amount of evidence required to the point being made.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

In this particular case, the issue is whether the facts, to the extent currently known by Carol, are sufficient to support her point.

Agreed. And those facts include the deliberative process used to free the woman. That fact alone is sufficient to demolish her point.

The issue you previously argued was not whether there were WMD, but whether the Bush Administration lied about it.

Yes. At the time of the lies, most people accepted them as truth. But now the truth has come out, and we know that Mr. Bush lied.

You say, "now we know better" without requiring the level independent study of the issue you require of Carol here.

Are you seriously suggesting that there is some reasonable question as to the nonexistence of WMD in Iraq? I hope not.

By your own stadarrds, you must hold to the conclusion of that Group.

I don't accept the Bipartisan Study Group's conclusions as definitive. They were a political group that hammered out compromises rather than a scientific group in objective pursuit of the truth. There was copious evidence countering the claims of the Bush Administration. Indeed, the best possible official source, the Blix Commission, flatly contradicted the Bush Administration's lies.

Your comments would have greater weight if you held yourself to the same standard of study to which you hold others

Ooo, nasty! ;-)

8:33 AM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

To say the public needs to restrict itself to the bipartisan report in which Bush and Cheney were interviewed together, without transcript and not under oath, is absurd. Rather the public is free to reach conclusions based on the totality of evidence and what they see with their own eyes.

It is irrelevant whether Bush lied, was fooled, had policies of disaster or was incompetent. For whatever reasons, polling indicates Bush has a 25% approval rating.

Coyotes pretended apples (this domestic violence case) and oranges (Bush's Presidency) are the same. They are not.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Sister Toldjah said...

chepe: "Who are you to judge this woman? Did you attend her trial? Did you study all the investigation reports? Did you read the various psychiatric reports? Did you read the rulings of the judge? Have you participated in the many psychiatric evaluations that were made of this woman?

Of course not. You cannot possibly know the huge volume of information generated by this case, yet you presume that your own poorly-informed judgement is superior to that of the many people who spent thousands of hours working on this case and participated in the final decision."

Who am I do "judge" this woman? I'm Sister Toldjah, a citizen of this country who has every right to comment and decide whether or not I think a judgement is right or wrong. There is not one issue out there that any of us comments on where we have every single solitary fact available to us. We make judgement calls based on what we know, and my judgement (and that of any sane person who ISN'T a moral relativist) is that this verdict was horribly, horribly unjust. The "she deserved it" rape defense rarely works, and the "he deserved it defense" as described in news accounts should never have worked here.

Get off your high horse, chepe. You yourself make judgement calls here all the time, like you've done with the Iraq war, among other issues.

Who are you to judge the Iraq war? Have you served? Have you read all the evidence presented prior to the Iraq war for its justification? Did you read the every intelligence agency report from top to bottom? Have you read every report that has come from the commanders and generals on the ground in Iraq? Have you participated in the many evaluations that the boots on the ground have made of the situation in Iraq?

Of course not. You cannot possibly know the huge volume of information generated before, during, and after this war, yet you presume that your own poorly-informed judgement is superior to that of the many people who spent thousands of hours working on this case and participated in the final decision.

See? Your BS "you shouldn't speak until you're fully informed on the issue" BS works both ways. You don't get to tell ANYONE what they should and shouldn't comment on, nor should you presume that just because they commented on it they've deemed themselves an expert. EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION ON EVERYTHING. It may be right, it may be wrong (except your opinion, of course, which we know to be 100% right in all instances) but nevertheless it is that: AN OPINION.

I think the punishment does not fit the crime in this case. Period. End of story. I don't have to know every little detail of the trial to be able to come to the conclusion that serving seven months for cold-blooded murder - regardless of the circumstances surrounding it - is flat out wrong.

Tammy Bruce was dead on: the moral relativism that exists in this country is like a cancer on it, especially when you have judgemental people such as yourself who have the audacity to try and tell others that they are in no position to judge anyone. What a crock.

earth to carol: "Domestic abuse cases can be very nasty and complicated. Justice is best administered in a court of law with a judge and jury, not by the peanut gallery that lacks much of the evidence and facts."

LOL. Say she who said this in thte next post:

"Coyote, there is enough in the public record for many to decide Bush cherry picked the intelligence and fixed what little he had, from such nefarious characters as Curveball and Chalibi, to launch an unnecessary war.

It is a bit strange that you would attempt to defend your authoritarian figure via some domestic violence case that everyone here is unfamiliar with. "

Bush lied? I think that justice is best administered in a court of law with a judge and jury, not by the peanut gallery that lacks much of the evidence and facts.

I love turning people's words around on them. You guys really do make it too easy.

Coyote: "Your comments would have greater weight if you held yourself to the same standard of study to which you hold others and calibrate the amount of evidence required to the point being made."

Zing :)

earth to carol: "Coyotes pretended apples (this domestic violence case) and oranges (Bush's Presidency) are the same. They are not."

How convienient of you to dismiss a perfectly apt comparison just because you don't like how it turns your "best decided by a judge and jury" comment on its ear. The far left has been accusing Bush of lying about the war, and want him impeached. They are making a judgement call prior to any trial. Yet they have the nerve to tell other people to wait for a judge and jury to decide as it relates to other cases, cases with which they sound sympathetic to the perp? LOL!

5:07 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Reality sucks for the right-wingers.

The triers of fact made their decision in the domestic abuse case. And Bush has a 25% approval rating. It is a stretch for anyone to connect these two, but leave it to the right-wingers to suggest it indicates Bush is a great leader.

Sister Toldjah, you haven't provided a single reason for your opinion that the court failed in it's decision. You own the zinger.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

We make judgement calls based on what we know

And at what level of knowledge do you decide that what you know is insufficient to render a reliable conclusion?

my judgement (and that of any sane person who ISN'T a moral relativist) is that this verdict was horribly, horribly unjust.

Every single sane person? Have you asked them all? ;-)

Get off your high horse, chepe.

Ooo, nasty! Where's a good editor when you need one? ;-)

You turn the tables on me by noting that I don't know everything there is to know about the Iraq war, and yet I draw conclusions about it. Your comparison fails because the former case was subjected to full, careful, objective analysis by a variety of people whom we trust to make reliable decisions, while the Iraq case has not been subjected to a full analysis, nor an objective analysis, and the people making the judgement calls about Iraq are not trustworthy (they've already lied to us many times).

If there had been a thorough, complete review of all the evidence prior to the invasion, by a group of disinterested observers with impeccable credentials, AND they had recommended in favor of the invasion, then I would certainly accept that. And in fact, WAS an impartial, impeccable, objective set of observers examining the WMD question: the Blix Commission, and they found no evidence of WMD.

Now, if you could come up with something like the Blix Commission in this case, then I'd admit the comparison. Why don't you write Hans Blix and see if he's interested?

Your BS "you shouldn't speak until you're fully informed on the issue" BS works both ways.

Dear me, the good manners editor seems to have gone on vacation. ;-)

You don't get to tell ANYONE what they should and shouldn't comment on

Did I?

EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION ON EVERYTHING.

Yes, and ill-informed opinions should be subject to criticism, don't you think?

I don't have to know every little detail of the trial to be able to come to the conclusion that serving seven months for cold-blooded murder - regardless of the circumstances surrounding it - is flat out wrong.

Let's examine that assertion, shall we? Let's suppose that the following facts had emerged in the trial:

1. Videotapes were presented showing the victim inserting a hot soldering iron into the defendant's bodily orifices.
2. The defendant testified that she had become pregnant and he had performed an involuntary clothes-hanger abortion upon her and buried the fetus in the back yard. The body of the fetus was found there.
3. The victim had used a kitchen knife to perform a female circumcision upon the defendant.
4. The defendant collected local stray kittens, murdered them, and sprinkled their blood on the defendant before raping her.

Now, I'm not claiming that these things actually happened. I'm offering them as hypothetical circumstances that you said would not affect your judgement of the verdict.

the moral relativism that exists in this country is like a cancer on it

Is this "moral relativism" or "let the punishment fit the crime"?

especially when you have judgemental people such as yourself who have the audacity to try and tell others that they are in no position to judge anyone. What a crock.

Gee, I know somebody else who had the audacity to tell others that they are in no position to judge anyone. His phrasing was "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" -- but I'm sure you dismiss that, too, as a crock.

Bush lied? I think that justice is best administered in a court of law with a judge and jury, not by the peanut gallery that lacks much of the evidence and facts.

You conflate criminal law with ethics. Mr. Bush is not on trial for perjury, and therefore no judge and jury is required. Ms. Winkler was on trial for murder, and therefore a judge and jury were appropriate.

The far left has been accusing Bush of lying about the war

The far left? I believe it's much more than that. I just saw a today that showed that 53% of the American public have already expressed skepticism about the trustworthiness of the upcoming Petraeus report. Right now, the number of people who think that Mr. Bush did NOT lie about the war is shrinking rapidly. I believe, however, that his own mother still trusts him.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

I just realized that our editor does not have editorial control over the postings of Sister Toldjah, and therefore the many instances where she violates his standards of decorum cannot be laid at his doorstep. I apologize for insinuating as much.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

Everybody, please behave.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Sister Toldjah said...

Don't worry, I'm behaving. I'm done with chepe's silly nonsense.

6:48 PM  

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