Thursday, April 19, 2007

MARY WINKLER HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY of voluntary manslaughter:
The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for almost eight hours before returning the verdict.

Voluntary manslaughter is a Class C felony that carries a standard penalty of three to six years and a maximum penalty of 15 years.

She could be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of the time.

She is scheduled for sentencing on May 18, and will remain free on bond until that time.


Jeff @ said...

Wow. Maybe I missed something, but that's not even a slap on the wrist given the case against her.

Joel said...

Yeah, I agree. Very weak.

kyprosecutor said...

The one thing that no one can truly talk about is the case against anyone if you weren't completely privy to the evidence committed at trial. (Ok, except the OJ trial--he was guilty.)

I'm not saying that the jury made the right decision but we don't know what they heard. We only know what the press has reported, which may be both more or less than the jury has heard.

How long was the trial? I'm prosecuting a reckless homicide trial and it's going to take seven days. If winkler's trial was fewer than twio weeks I'm moving to Tenessee.

Alan said...

I was hoping kyprosecutor would weigh in.

I believe the trial began last Thursday, the cases wrapping up on Wednesday and going to the jury yesterday morning. That did include Saturday.

Maybe you need to get one of those Tennessee prosecutors up there to show you how you do it. On the other hand, maybe the verdict shows they should have taken a little more time!

Bill said...

This trial shows the power of the "abuse excuse" defense (which even Dershowitz denounces), the therapeutic culture in our society (which has infected the church), and the willingess of Christians to accept our popular mythology of abuse. The fact, for example, that DOJ statistics establish that fathers are the LEAST likely abusers of children, with the boyfriends of mothers and then mothers more common abusers, is ignored in our "Oprahesque" culture of abuse and therapy. Americans have little to no familiarity with orthodox Christianity and this culture demonstrates it.

While Kyprosecutor is correct that you must hear all evidence presented to the jury in order to make a judgment on the evidence, I suspect the prosecution did an inadequate job of investigating the defense's expert and were unable to undermine her opinion.

What also is true is that in the centuries long common law of manslaughter, "abuse" was never recognized as a basis for finding voluntary manslaughter. An imperfect self-defense case, yes (that is, you thought you were acting in self-defense, but were not), and there is the classic (but not frequently applied) manslaughter of the spouse (classically husband) encountering his spouse in the act of adultery. Never abuse, however, which is, as this trial demonstrated, without objective evidence in most all cases, and relies on the assumptions of a therapeutic culture for its basis.

The comments on the Jackson Sun story were pathetic, reflecting the assumption that abuse occurred (despite the firm denials of the 9 year old daughter--oh yeah, that's answered with the convenient "children will deny the abuse"--how convenient).

The only bright spot from this embarassing display of pop-psychology culture by Tennesseans is that at least I don't have to listen to Southerners bragging about how "law and order" and "traditional values" their states are. The pop junk culture that emanates from the coasts is firmly rooted there as well.meqhuh

Alan said...

Dare I point out that 10 of the 12 jurors were women? In my own defense from the charges of misogyny, my wife was the one who pointed it out to me. One wonders how many of the juror strikes used by the defense were for men.

After Oprah is finished with Imus, will Mary Winkler appear next?

Bill said...

Interestingly, defense attorneys seem to generally hold the opinion that women are tougher on women in these cases (although that will differ on the specific women). We can't know how the dynamics of the jury played in the decision (unless they discuss it, which they probably will once TV comes calling). One does not need to see the evidence, however, to know that this verdict is the result of a revolution in our common law (precipitated by Tennessee cases, as it happens), in permitting "abuse" to serve as either self-defense or to defeat findings of intent/premeditation necessary for murder (second or first). Again, it's contrary to centuries of our common law (but I suppose its advocates would claim it doesn't matter what the provocation is so long as the jury finds it sufficient to defeat intent). I guess abuse isn't worse than the "twinkie defense" that prevailed in San Francisco some 30 years ago.

The woman's testimony is apparently online, but you can't grasp everything from the transcript that the jury saw (demeanor, etc.). We definitely live in a different culture as well as time than our forebears.

Jeff @ said...

What gets me is that at least some of her charges could be easily verified or denied.

For example, the pornography charges: either through browser history or through subpoena'ing their ISP records, you could determine if those sites were viewed from their PC. But it seems like neither side bothered.

Bill said...

Not to run this too far out, but the state did have a computer forensics expert analyze the family's computer (since she alleged the pornography to be on it). He found none except small thumbnails that the expert apparently characterized as of a type that would be automatically loaded on a computer and that there was no "downloaded" pornography on it. That contradiction of the wife's testimony (which you would think is significant to her portrayal of her husband as unnatural in his appetites--for whatever significance that is in a murder case) apparently was set aside by the jury in some manner.

I'm not certain, but it appears the police found the infamous "wig and shoes" in the home, however, I'm not certain of that.

Trying to deconstruct a verdict is like picking apart a sausage hoping to find the original ingredients.

kyprosecutor said...


I like your sausage analogy about analyzing a verdict (after enduring a master's degree in English I refuse to use the word "deconstruct."). Presently, I'm preparing my closing argument in my Reckless Homicide trial. Trying to anticipate what will be most important to the jury is akin to guessing what a table of twelve will order for dinner and whom will pay the check. Also, remember that a jury not only sifts through the facts presented but also weighs the credibility of witness testimony. Did Winkler testify in this trial? Did she make prior videotaped statemnts to the police? Does she look like a murderer? I believe I have started with an advantage in some sexual abuse cases because the defendant looked like a child molester and I lost one significant rape case in part because the defendant was almost movie star handsome and a cool customer on the stand.

Interesting discussion. Alan, why don't you switch this to a legal blog and we'll go head to head with Nancy Grace.


Alan said...

I certainly seem to get more action in comments with a legal angle. If Dave and Bill will continue to post, maybe I should consider it.

In the meantime you can gain insight from the Bob Loblaw Law Blog: