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Judge clears Winkler for Oprah show

By John Gerome
Associated Press Writer

NASHVILLE — Mary Winkler can appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after a judge denied a motion for a gag order from her former in-laws, who are fighting to keep custody of her three young daughters.

Winkler was convicted in April of voluntary manslaughter after she shot and killed her husband, Matthew, an Austin High School graduate and Church of Christ minister, last year.

His parents, Dan and Diane Winkler, argued that discussing the case on national television would harm the children.

"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," their motion said.

Carroll County Chancellor Ron Harmon denied the motion without comment. The couple's attorney, Jake Adams Jr., declined to comment.

Part of Mary Winkler's "Oprah" interview, scheduled to air Wednesday afternoon, has already been taped. She is currently under court order to stay in Tennessee except for visits to her attorney, whose office is in Mississippi outside of Memphis.

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

She served five months in jail, followed by two months in a mental health treatment facility.

The chancellor set a hearing next week on another motion filed Monday by Winkler, seeking immediate custody of her children, or at least frequent visits.

Dan and Diane Winkler have had custody of the girls since their mother's arrest. They are seeking to terminate her parental rights and adopt the girls.

Mary Winkler's motion argues that her continued separation from the girls — ages 2, 8 and 10 — is "unconscionable and detrimental" to the children.

Mary Winkler's petition for custody 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.

Winkler on Oprah

A segment entitled “Exclusive: Mary Winkler, the wife who killed her pastor husband” will be part of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Wed-nesday at 4 p.m. on WAFF-48.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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