Kill the dad, get the kids

Mary Winkler, who served only 67 days for killing her minister husband, has regained custody of their three young children. Convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Winkler claimed her husband had abused her physically and emotionally, but there’s little evidence to support that, writes Glenn Sacks.

In describing her crime to Oprah, Mary Winkler says she was angry at her husband and “just wanted to talk to him,” and then she “heard a boom.” A more complete description of the incident would have been that she wanted to talk to him, waited until he fell asleep, retrieved the shotgun, pumped it, aimed it at his back, pulled the trigger, and then “heard a boom.” Her description of the killing was so devoid of personal responsibility that even a sympathetic Oprah didn’t accept it.

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of both the trial and Oprah was the way Mary highlighted the white platform shoes which she claimed Matthew “made her” wear, and which she said were deeply humiliating to her.

The three girls, now 11, 9 and 3 years old, have been raised by their father’s parents since the 2006 murder. The grandparents tried to get permanent custody, arguing that Mary Winkler poses a “substantial threat of harm to her children.” You’d think that would be an easy case, but no.

Britain is making it easier for women who murder their husbands to get away with it by claiming abuse, Sacks adds.

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Comments

  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Nobody’s perfect.

  2. Uh, why is anyone surprised? The courts have been doing this for many years. This case is only one of the most egregious examples. Remember: woman good, man bad.

  3. 67 DAYS for manslaughter?! Even assuming she was originally charged with murder and plead to a lesser included, or the jury found her guilty of a lesser included, I can’t comprehend that. Even the most liberal pro-defense judges here would lock you away for several years for that.

  4. Ragnarok says:

    Have any of the feministae criticised this farcical decision? Any of the progressive “children’s rights” groups?

  5. Seriously, I’ve sent people to jail for DUI for longer sentences. My mind can’t stop being boggled.

  6. Ragnarok says:

    Like most people, I used to believe that justice was usually served, that judges rarely did outrageous things, that laws were for the most part reasonable.

    I no longer think so. The stupidity, arrogance and bias of judges – and the entire family court system – would be fodder for satire if only the results weren’t so tragic.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    It would be one thing if she merely got off because of uncorroborated tales of abuse.

    But giving her the kids back is a deliberate poke in the eye. “You think we’re easy on women who murder their husbands? Watch this.”

  8. Margo/Mom says:

    There is some indication of abuse (testimony of family members about bruising, personality changes), as well as the institutional abuse of women by the particular denomination of which the husband was a pastor. Weak, to be sure, but that is the nature of the beast.

    In the end, the conviction was for manslaughter–with possible incarceration for 3-6 years. She was sentenced to three, with credit for five months served. The sixty seven days came from 60 days in a mental health facility and an additional 7 in prison. I am no expert, but I believe that this is consistent with how things usually happen (not saying that I understand or agree, just that I believe that full sentences served are the exception rather than the rule).

    Having met those requirements, she would certainly be free to request the return of custody of her children. The standard which would usually be applied would be the best interest of children–with a presumption that biological parents are in the best interest, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, with the evidence having to do with things actually done to the children. For example, if the father were charged and convicted of the abuse of their mother, in the absence of any evidence that he had ever harmed the children, he would be considered to be the rightful parent, once his sentence was served.

  9. Margo,

    I’m afraid you’ve outdone yourself this time:

    “A killer shoots his spouse in the back, and then pulls the phone cord out so the victim can’t call 911. As the victim slowly bleeds to death, the killer abducts their three children and flees to another state.”

    As for claiming that the father would have been treated the same way, evidence?

    This is a travesty, akin to the Cleavon Little in “Blazing Saddles”. Faced with a lynch mob, he held a gun to his own head and threatened to shoot himself if they didn’t back off!

  10. Margo is right, at least as far as California law goes. When a judge awards custody or visitation, he’s not supposed to consider the fact that the father (or mother) has been convicted of abusing the other parent. Abuse is relevant only if the children were victimized.

    I did a story years ago on a transitional housing program for mothers who’d fled abusive men. If the father had visitation, the drop-off and pick-up would take place at a neutral location; the mother would tell the kids not to say where they were living or what school they attended.

    However, I can think of no case in which a man convicted of killing his wife has received custody of the children.

  11. Mark Roulo says:

    However, I can think of no case in which a man convicted of killing his wife has received custody of the children.

    I’m going to make a wild guess that most men who are convicted of killing their wives don’t get out after five months served plus 67 days, so the opportunity wouldn’t come up very often.

    -Mark Roulo

  12. “When a judge awards custody or visitation, he’s not supposed to consider the fact that the father (or mother) has been convicted of abusing the other parent. Abuse is relevant only if the children were victimized.”

    Just another illustration of how cockeyed the system is.

    I would’ve thought that having a child watch her father die at the hands of her mother, not to mention refusing to call 911, would be severe abuse of the child by the mother.

    But obviously not!

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > I would’ve thought that having a child watch her father die at the hands of her mother, not to mention refusing to call 911, would be severe abuse of the child by the mother.

    Maybe, but the mother is unlikely to kill the father again.

  14. Ragnarok says:

    “Maybe, but the mother is unlikely to kill the father again.”

    Excellent point, and it illustrates the razor-sharp thinking that is symptomatic of our judicial system.

    Of course she might kill the children, or a new boyfriend, or someone else, but that’s hardly grounds to deny her custody. Much better to wait until she actually does it.

  15. Margo/Mom says:

    A quick google search didn’t immediately get me the names of any fathers who received custody after being judged guilty of killing the childrens’ mother. I did find a case of a man who killed his first wife, spent time in jail and was released and remarried. When he and wife #2 split the judge awarded custody to the father, rather than the mother. Reason, the mother was a lesbian. Forget what state, but seems like it was Florida.

  16. What, Margo, not even a hint of outrage about the Winkler case?