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Wife of slain minister faces suit

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) — The parents of a slain Church of Christ minister have filed a $2 million wrongful-death lawsuit against his wife, who is scheduled to stand trial for first-degree murder next month.

Mary Winkler, 33, is charged with shooting her husband, Matthew Winkler, in the back with a shotgun at their Selmer residence a year ago.

Matthew Winkler was a 1993 graduate of Decatur's Austin High School.

Matthew Winkler's parents, Dan and Diane Winkler of Huntingdon, filed the suit in McNairy County on behalf of the couple's three young daughters, The Commercial Appeal reported.

Dan Winkler is a former minister at Beltline Church of Christ in Decatur.

The suit claims Winkler's death caused the girls and the grandparents, who now have custody of the girls, mental pain and suffering and an undue financial burden.

It also has deprived the children of their father's attention, guidance, care, protection, training, companionship, affection, love and the loss of prospective inheritance, the suit said.

Dan Winkler has been appointed administrator of his son's estate and Mary Winkler forfeited her right to administer the estate by killing her husband, according to the suit. The husband had no will, the newspaper reported.

Mary Winkler is currently free on $750,000 bond and living with friends in McMinnville, where she works at a dry cleaning shop.

She was recently ruled competent to stand trial, but filings by her defense attorneys indicate she may try to mount a defense that she was not in the state of mind to commit premeditated murder.

She told authorities in Alabama, where she was found with her daughters the night after the shooting, that she shot her husband because she was upset over his constant criticism of "the way I walk, what I eat, everything. It was just building up to this point. I was just tired of it. I guess I just got to a point and snapped."

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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