Jury Selection Begins in Winkler Trial

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Selmer, McNairy County (WVLT) - Jury selection is underway in West Tennessee for a former East Tennessee woman, charged with the murder of her pastor husband.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb is in Selmer following the case.

Questioning of the first set of seven people began around 3:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

Both prosecutors and the defense are trying to find out just how much people know in the hope of finding 12 fair jurors.

Jury selection is underway for the murder trial of Mary Winkler.

"There will be extra security but nothing extraordinary, but the sheriff's department and court officers are doing a good job," says Sue Allison from the Administrative Office of Courts.

Winkler is charged in the March 22nd, 2006 shotgun slaying of her husband Matthew, a pastor of the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer.

Now, they're looking for her peers to decide Winkler's guilt or innocence.

"There will be a pool of about 160 jurors, who will be questioned before a jury is selected. That may take as long as a week. We hope not, but it may," says Allison.

But finding jurors will be time-consuming. Only questioning of seven jurors found one who said the victim threatened to kill her dog. Another said he was a member of that church. The case is getting a lot of attention. One woman said she just wanted to hear Winkler's voice, believing it was Winkler, who accidentally called her the night of the murder.

"She said 'I need help but said I'm on Highway 57. I have my children with me my husband is hurt and I have a gray car. You remember I'm in a gray car' and I thought what is she telling me this for," says Louise Hill.

So will Mary Winkler tell her story? The defense told potential jurors she did not have to, but questioned them if they would listen to her fairly if she did.

Going seven jurors at a time, court officials expect it could take all week to go through the juror pool of 160 to find a jury of 12 and four alternates.

Once a jury is picked, they are expected to be sequestered.


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