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It was a crime that stunned the nation. In March, 32-year-old Mary Winkler, a soft-spoken preacher's wife, was charged with the murder of husband Matt, a Church of Christ minister in the small town of Selmer, Tenn.
"Physical, mental, verbal," said Clark Freeman, Winkler's father. "I don't know how she took it. She's a stronger individual than I am."
Freeman says the abuse became more apparent the last three years of Winkler and Matt's marriage.
"I saw bad bruises. The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises," Freeman said. "So one day, I confronted her. I said, 'Mary Carol, you are coming off as a very abused wife, very battered.'"
But Freeman says she denied the accusations.
"[She] would hang her head and say, 'No, daddy, everything's all right. Everything's all right.'"
"What went on behind their closed doors is going to have to be told," said Winkler's attorney Leslie Ballin. "Some of what we've got from the state of Tennessee touches on sexual abuse."
What's striking to many outsiders is how accepting and supportive the majority of the community has been to Winkler.
That sense of forgiveness, community members say, stems from the town's Christian roots and from its tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt.
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