Video: Slain pastor's wife in court

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 3/28/2006 9:36:57 AM ET 2006-03-28T14:36:57

Mary Winkler, the woman charged with killing her minister husband, is “very confused and overwhelmed” by what’s happening, her lawyer told NBC News on Tuesday.

She is “very detached, very detached from the gravity of the overall situation, very reserved, very quiet, very confused and overwhelmed,” Steve Forese said on the “Today” show.

Winkler, 32, on Monday wore shackles and clutched her attorney’s hand as she was escorted into the courtroom. She did not enter a plea. Her only words were “no, sir” when the judge asked if she had any questions after he read the complaint against her and explained her rights.

Winkler is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband, Matthew Winkler, minister at Fourth Street Church of Christ in this small town 80 miles east of Memphis.

General Sessions Court Judge Bob Gray delayed a decision on bail until a preliminary hearing, set for Thursday.

Authorities have said Mary Winkler confessed to killing her husband on Wednesday and then leaving town with their three young daughters, though officials have not suggested a motive for the attack. The minister was found dead that night in the church parsonage.

Video: Attorney speaks Mary Winkler was apprehended late Thursday in Orange Beach, Ala., after authorities issued an Amber alert for the children, who are now in the custody of their grandparents.

Defense attorney Leslie Ballin declined to answer questions about Mary Winkler’s state of mind but said the defense might order a psychological exam later.

Motive remains unclear
Farese said Monday that investigators had not disclosed to him what motive, if any, Mary Winkler had given them.

Asked if the couple had marital problems, Farese said, “Have you ever been in a relationship? They all have some problems.”

Prosecutor Elizabeth Rice fended off questions from reporters, saying all the evidence would be presented in court later.

One front row in the small courtroom Monday was filled with members of the Winklers’ church, all women. Several sobbed and dabbed their eyes with tissues.

“It hurts us very much, but we’re going to stand behind her 100 percent,” church member Anita Whirley said after the hearing.

The defendant’s father was escorted from the courtroom by a sheriff’s deputy.

Clark Freeman declined to answer reporters’ questions except to say that his daughter was doing “as well as she can.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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