She served seven months in a mental-health facility for shooting her husband

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 14, 2007 03:40 PM

Mary Winkler, the Tennessee woman convicted in April of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of her husband, preacher Matthew Winkler, was released from custody on Tuesday, her attorney told CNN.

Winkler, 33, was let go from a mental-health facility in her home state after undergoing treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Steve Farese.

He added that Winkler, the mother of three girls, would decline all interviews because of ongoing litigation involving custody of her children – whom she has not seen in a year – and a $2 million civil suit filed by the parents of her late husband.

Matthew’s parents have been taking care of his and Mary’s daughters, and have taken legal measures to retain custody, says CNN.

At the time of Mary’s trial last spring, daughter Patricia was 9; Mary Alice was 7; and Breanna was 2.

Currently residing with friends, Winkler will resume her job at a dry cleaners in McMinnville, Tenn., said Farese.

Matthew Winkler, 31, a minister at the Fourth Street Church of Christ, was found dead in the church parsonage in March 2006. He had been shot in the back.

Mary Winkler was discovered a day later in Alabama driving the family’s minivan with their three young daughters.

At trial, Winkler testified that her husband had abused her physically and sexually, and said that she pointed the shotgun at him, but that it fired accidentally. Dismissing her account as ridiculous, prosecutors sought a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a sentence of around 50 years.

Instead, Mary Winkler received a three-year sentence in June. Circuit Court Judge J. Weber McCraw, however, reduced that to 210 days, permitting her to serve the remainder of her time on probation.

She was also given credit for the five months behind bars she spent awaiting trial, which further reduced her sentence to only about two months. McCraw additionally determined that she could serve them in a mental-health facility.