Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Brain Scrambling

I was reading today about Mary Winkler, and have had a hard time getting this off my mind.

If you remember Winkler, she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her minister husband. Her defense claimed battered women's syndrome, and she served a sentence of 5 months in prison and 2 months in a mental health treatment facility.

She is seeking custody, or at least frequent visitation with her children, ages 2, 8 and 10, who have been in the custody of her in-laws since she was arrested. They in turn, are seeking to terminate her parental rights so they can adopt her daughters (and by inference keep them from any contact with her).

I'm trying to figure out the reasoning behind all of this.

Given the girls' ages, I could understand it if she was in prison for many years and the grandparents were the primary guardians. They probably wouldn't remember her as a mother, and it could be traumatic to suddenly be yanked from the only caregivers they've ever known.

But it's not like that.

Apart from any thoughts of vengeance from a readers' standpoint (somebody must have believed her defense because she was only incarcerated a total of 7 months and let go from the facility because they thought she was of sound mind), the woman has served her sentence and her debt to society.

Did it seem awfully short? Maybe so. But she served what was imposed and is now a free citizen.

Was there an extra sentence tacked on that said she must lose her parental rights?

No.

Was there a sentence given to her children that said they must lose their mother permanently as well?

No.

I just don't get the reasoning, if it's in the best interest of the children.

What do you think?

27 comments:

Brenda said...

I posted a bit about Mary Winkler a while ago. A jury of her peers judged her and gave her the sentence they felt was fair after reviewing all of the evidence against her. I watched the trial on television and there was not one bad thing said about this woman's ability to be anything but a good mother to her daughters. Mary's deceased husband's parents have had custody of the children for more than a year now and that's so sad because after watching and listening to the MIL at the trial, I wouldn't want that woman to have a hand in raising my children. Give Mary her girls back!

Chris H said...

I don't know a thing about this case, but from you have said, she should be given back her children, and if she has to fight for them in court I hope she wins.

Kate said...

I haven't heard of this case either, but I agree with Chris, she should be given her children back, or at least get extended visitation rights. I can understand the anger of her former in-laws, but depriving their grand children of a relationship with their mother isn't going to bring their son back. In fact, it will hurt them far more and probably result in another generation with problems.

Ingrid said...

I remember reading her story. I hope she gets her children back. I think the in-laws are being hateful.

golfwidow said...

I want to reserve judgement, never having had kids, but this whole situation reeks of the in-laws taking revenge for the loss of their son - not only his death, but the disillusionment that came from learning he wasn't the golden boy they always thought he was.

Mamma said...

If those people really love their grandchildren, they will let them be with the woman they love.

Interesting minister's parents wouldn't recognize the sin of revenge.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that maybe they should give her kids back and keep an eye on her.

I she steals more money and then kills one of them to cover it up, then maybe they should take back the other two.

Heather said...

"I want to reserve judgement, never having had kids, but this whole situation reeks of the in-laws taking revenge for the loss of their son - not only his death, but the disillusionment that came from learning he wasn't the golden boy they always thought he was. "

I couldn't have said it better, golfwidow!

I just think she deserves to try and live a normal life now. I truly feel as though none of us have a right to judge unless we have walked a mile in another's shoe.

Stinkypaw said...

Those kids are hers. I feel that maybe it is the grand-parents way of getting back at her. Maybe there's more to this story than what is being told, but like you said she did pay her dues so technically those kids she be returned to her.

Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
I’m not familiar with the Mary Winkler case, but judging from what you’ve told us, it sounds like the Grandparents are control freaks out for revenge or their “pound of flesh” after the death of their son.

Ironically, I’ve just finished reading “Notes From the Country Club” by Kim Wozencraft. It’s a story of a badly damaged woman struggling to come to terms with the events that have landed her in a psychiatric ward in prison (the “country club”) to determine whether she is competent to stand trail for the murder of her abusive/battering husband. There were no children involved, but the post-traumatic stress disorder that many battered women are plagued with that is discussed in the book might cast some light on Mary Winkler’s situation.

imfunnytoo said...

Since we don't know the whole mess.

*If* the father was abusive...I would be looking at the grandparents as well...

She has done her time. She's their mom. Start with limited supervised visitation and gradually move up from there...to full custody, pending an exhaustive review of the mom's life before the final complete transfer of custody...

And this is from someone who doesn't think she should get custody....The law is the law.

The grandparents oogy me out, because they didn't call their kid on his abusive behavior that surely existed in some form before he even met this woman...

The mom gives off a creepy vibe to me as well....

There just are no good choices here. So follow the law.

Kikilia said...

I would give the kids back to Mary.

If, as officials believe, Mary was abused by her husband- why would her children even be with the parents who raised an abuser?

I know Mary's family is closeby- why weren't the children given to them?

Anyway- I don't think his parents should have the girls. I think they should be with their mother or their mother's family.

Mississippi Songbird said...

I live about 30 miles from the community where this happened. As you said,she has served her sentence. and no,it did not say that she loses parental rights.
I think she should get her children back.

Beth said...

I too think she is entitled to have her children back. She's done her time - and more (during the marriage).
The custody case should be interesting...

Deb said...

I saw this on Oprah today and I agree with you. Why is she having to fight to get her kids back when it wasn't part of the sentence? Who knows!

Tulip said...

Not that people don't get *pushed* through the mental health system, but if they say she's ok now, who am I to judge? I think A LOT of people say they do things "for the sake of the/ their children" when it's really a bunch of self motivated B.S. Hmmmm I happen to know people like that. I also know some people who could afford to go to whichever Psych Hospital SHE went for treatment if they "helped" her in less than a year.

carmachu said...

Screw that. She deserved to be hung by the neck until dead.

I hope she doesnt ever get her kids back. According to more than a few reports, she wasnt abused and killed him:

"Winkler scammed the court with uncorroborated claims that Matthew (pictured with his wife and three daughters) abused her. According to the testimony from Matthew Winkler's nine-year-old daughter, Patricia, the dead father--who as he lay dying looked at his wife and asked "why?"--was a good man and did not abuse her mother. "

http://mensnewsdaily.com/2007/09/04/...-her-children/

That women MURDERED her children's husband in cold blood. There is no reason she should get them back after depriving them of a father.

Trish said...

I think you should become a trial lawyer.

All valid points. It sounds to me like vengeance on the part of the grandparents.

carmachu said...

And rightfully they should have it trish, if she killed him in cold blood rather than abuse.

Angela said...

I think it is just sad that the chilren have to go through this mess. I hope they end up in a good home.

Anonymous said...

Custody decisions have nothing to do with the criminal justice system. Different judges are assigned to these cases, and the goal is to protect children and provide for their best interests, not to punish parents. Mental health issues and family violence are legitimate concerns in custody cases.

The issue is whether or not the mother is capable of providing a safe home for the children in the future. Whether she has "paid her debt to society" is not something that the judge will consider.

It's a tragic situation, whatever the outcome may be.

Meg M. Evans

Jennifer McK said...

I'm wondering how the children feel? That ought to be the deciding factor. The oldest one is eight and probably knows what was really going on.
I think the court should consider their point of view whatever it is.
I agree with imfunnytoo that it ought to begin with visitation and proceed slowly.
If she's a scammer, those kids will show the signs eventually.
Custody cases are ugly.
And no losing her parental rights wasn't part of her sentence. But she took a life. Perhaps she needs more help before she becomes a full time mother again.

Anonymous said...

I followed this case very closely, both on television and in print, and this woman should not get her children back in my opinion. She shot her husband in the back in cold blood because she claims that he verbally abused her. If she is capable of that, then she is capable of doing harm to one of the children if/when they don't behave the way she thinks they should. If her husband was so abusive, as she now claims, why didn't she leave him and return to her family? She was surrounded by supportive family and friends and had every opportunity to rectify her situation without violence. The jury that found her quilty of reduced charges were obviously if limited intelligence.

Ann(ie) said...

I am really torn on this one. I found myself reading the comments and still feeling torn and I wanted to blog about it, but I can't seem to figure out where I stand. It's weird, too b/c usually I know my opinion inmmediately and it doesn't waver. I am leaning toward thinking that she is an unstable danger to them to be honest. She shot their dad and there were other ways to get help. It doesn't fit. But, at the same time I worry about how her girls must miss her and need their mama. *sigh* I'm a mess. What a sad fricken story!!!

phlegmfatale said...

I agree she has served her sentence, and despite their bitter loss, the parents of the murdered guy are absolute jackasses for being hostile to the mother of these 3 little girls. Truth of it is, if this father was abusive, at least 1 of the daughters HAD to be aware of it, and she will be less likely to respond favorably to guardians who are horrid to her mother. Dreadful situation, but the courts are satisfied, and so am I. The dead guy's parents have an OBVIOUS axe to grind - it's too bay they have custody, frankly.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

She should NOT get her kids...
she murdered her husband in cold blood.... and she's a mess...

she should not have those kids...

her in laws should keep them...

I was an abused wife for years..and not one time did I ever even consider killing him..
ever...
she could have just left him.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

Clarification...
in my case .. it was years ago...
with my high school sweetheart/husband... we've been divorced for years...