Mary Winkler's efforts to regain custody of her three daughters suffered another blow Tuesday. The Tennessee Supreme Court, in an order issued in Jackson, denied Winkler's request for a hearing on an Appeals Court decision that will not allow her custody petition in juvenile court to proceed. Mary Winkler was convicted in April and sentenced in May on a conviction of voluntary manslaughter in the death of her husband, Matthew Winkler, a Church of Christ minister in Selmer.
After the conviction, Matthew Winkler's parents filed a suit to terminate Mary Winkler's parental rights and to adopt the girls - Patricia, 9, Allie, 7, and Brianna, 2.
Dan and Diane Winkler have cared for the girls since Mary Winkler was arrested in March 2006, after Matthew Winkler's death.
Tennessee law places adoption petitions, which are heard in chancery court, ahead of custody petitions heard in juvenile court. The Court of Appeals decision allowed Dan and Diane Winkler to continue pursuing permanent custody of the girls, and this week's Tennessee Supreme Court ruling lets this decision stand.
The Supreme Court's order further assessed all court costs in the matter to Mary Winkler, who received donated legal services during her murder trial.