This Day In History: August 15

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Mary Winkler, who confessed to fatally shooting her pastor husband Matthew Winkler in his sleep at their church parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, is released from jail on $750,000 bail. Winkler was later convicted in his killing, but served only a short time in prison.

On March 22, 2006, church members found 31-year-old Matthew Winkler in his bedroom, dead from a shotgun wound in the back. The well-liked minister had failed to show up for evening services. The following day, Mary Winkler, then 32, was arrested in Alabama, driving her three young daughters in the family’s minivan. Winkler told police she shot her husband following an argument. She remained in prison until August 15, 2006, when she was released on bail.

During trial, Winkler claimed her husband had abused her physically and sexually. She also maintained the gun had gone off accidentally. The prosecution argued Winkler had become involved in a financial scam and was trying to hide it from her husband. On April 19, 2007, after deliberating for eight hours, a jury found Winkler guilty of voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years in prison, but the judge ruled she only had to serve 210 days. Winkler received credit for the five months she’d already spent in jail and the judge allowed her to serve the final 60 days in a mental health facility in Tennessee.