Image: The Winkler family
Mary Winkler, center rear, killed her husband, the Rev. Matthew Winkler, after what she described as years of abuse. Mary now seeks custody of her three daughters.
updated 9/11/2007 11:25:17 AM ET 2007-09-11T15:25:17

The woman who killed her minister husband with a shotgun is seeking custody of her three daughters, or at least frequent visits.

A petition filed in Carroll County Chancery Court argues that Mary Winkler’s continued separation from the girls — ages 2, 8 and 10 — is “unconscionable and detrimental” to the children.

Winkler, 33, shot the Rev. Matthew Winkler in their parsonage of Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer on March 22, 2006, after what she described as an abusive marriage.

She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but served only five months in jail, followed by two months in a mental health treatment facility.

Her former in-laws, Dan and Diane Winkler, are seeking to terminate her parental rights and adopt the girls.

Mary Wilker’s petition to the court says she has not had parenting time with the children in a year. She “would show that she does not represent a threat of substantial harm to the children and therefore they should be returned to her immediately in order to serve their best interest,” the filing says.

Dan and Diane Winkler also filed a motion to try to prevent Mary Winkler from appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Wednesday, but Chancellor Ron Harmon denied it after hearing arguments from the parties Tuesday.

Her in-laws had argued that “it is in the best interest of the children to live normal lives and it is not in their interest for their private lives and problems to be aired in the newspaper and on television. No good can come of it.”

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