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Murder trial for minister's wife set for April 9

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) — The murder trial for a minister's wife charged with shooting her husband to death will begin April 9, a judge ordered Friday.

Mary Winkler, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in last year's shotgun slaying of her 31-year-old husband, Matthew. Prosecutors have refused to give a motive for the shooting, but Winkler told authorities she shot her husband, a Church of Christ minister, after a night of arguing over finances and other family matters.

Judge Weber McGraw set the trial date in a one-page order. He didn't rule, however, on defense arguments he heard Thursday that evidence seized by police at the parsonage where the body was found March 22 should be thrown out because officers didn't have a search warrant.

Matthew Winkler was a 1993 Austin High School graduate and the son of a former minister at Beltline Church of Christ in Decatur.

Weber said he would issue a written ruling on the motion to suppress the evidence seized, including bank records. He did not say when.

Mary Winkler is free on bond until the trial begins and has been living with friends in McMinnville and working at a dry cleaner.

She was taken into custody the day after the slaying in Orange Beach where she was located with the couple's three young daughters.

Her defense lawyers argued during a hearing Thursday that police were wrong to search the home once they knew Matthew Winkler was dead and no one else in the house was in danger.

Prosecutors said local police and agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted themselves properly at the Winkler residence.

Prosecutors did not say what items taken from the residence might be used at trial, and defense lawyers were not specific about potential evidence that concerned them.

The shotgun believed used in the slaying was seized at the time of Mary Winkler's arrest.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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