Originally created 03/27/06

Across the southeast



Slain preacher's wife apologizes to church

SELMER, TENN. - The preacher's wife charged with murder in her husband's death wanted his congregation to know "she was sorry for everything she has done," said a friend who visited her in jail Sunday.

Church member Pam Killingsworth visited Mary Winkler after Sunday services and said the preacher's wife gave no indication why her husband of 10 years was shot.

"She just said she was sorry and for me to write a note to the church saying that she was sorry for everything she had done," Ms. Killingsworth said as she walked from the jail in tears.

Mrs. Winkler, 32, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Matthew Winkler, the preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, a small town 80 miles east of Memphis.

Her initial court appearance is scheduled for today.

The congregation held its first Sunday services since the shooting and were warned by elder Robert Shackelford not to speculate about why their popular, young minister was killed.

Church members found Mr. Winkler, 31, dead in a bedroom of the couple's parsonage Wednesday night after his family missed a church service. Mrs. Winkler and the children were nowhere to be found.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has refused to discuss a motive, but said investigators did not believe it was because of infidelity. The agency would not comment on whether Mr. Winkler had been accused of domestic abuse. Court papers offered no hint on a motive.

Newspaper joins call for speaker to resign

RALEIGH, N.C. - The News & Observer on Sunday joined the editorial chorus that is calling for state House Speaker Jim Black to resign amid allegations of campaign finance law violations.

Last week, the State Board of Elections asked the Wake County district attorney to examine whether Mr. Black broke the law by accepting incomplete checks from his fellow optometrists and forwarding them to political allies.

It also ordered Mr. Black's campaign to give up more than $23,000 in what it found to be illegal contributions from people connected to the video poker industry, corporations and business, in addition to eye doctors.

Mr. Black, D-Mecklenburg, said that the incomplete checks were lawful at the time and that he might appeal the board's ruling related to the optometrists' donations. Any laws broken would be misdemeanors.

The Raleigh newspaper said the case as it stands so far is reason enough for Mr. Black to step down.

The Charlotte Observer, Mr. Black's hometown newspaper and the state's largest, issued a similar editorial Friday, as have more than a dozen others in the state.

Mr. Black has done nothing wrong and has no plans to resign, spokeswoman Julie Robinson said.