I felt honored to know Matt and consider his dad, uncle and granddad heroes of the faith. When a mutual friend called and told me that Dan had asked him to come to sit with him during the trial but that he couldn't make the trip alone and asked that I make the trip with him - I did so joyfully but reluctantly. I have a number of thoughts and comments on the injustice that I feel the trial was - several friends of mine have written about the trial more effectively than I could but the note that follows from someone I do not know I think says some powerful things worth your consideration. It is from The Tennessean:
Verdict in Winkler case can't make up for family's lossBy TRUMAN BEAN
"With the jury's verdict of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Matthew Winkler, a few important concerns need to be brought forth.
I have known Dan and Diane Winkler, Matthew's parents, through his tenure as the main pulpit minister at Crieve Hall Church of Christ (where we are members) for a decade in the '90s and early 2000s. Their sons, Daniel and Jacob along with their newly formed families and ever-new additions, were members also. Matthew visited during his college years as a student, eventually visiting with Mary as his dating partner, fiancée, wife, and mother to their children.
I have watched this family grow from five plus one spouse to five plus three spouses and a litter of beautiful grandchildren.
Dan's preaching throughout his Crieve Hall tenure was flavored with numerous family stories, of fun and sadness, successes and failures and all things in between. Dan maintained a respect for God's inspired scripture, teaching its admonitions on the importance of family and the self-sacrifice needed by BOTH husbands/fathers and wives/mothers in order to fulfill its purpose of a nurturing and fruitful environment for all.
I benefited from this emphasis, as a newly married neophyte, sleepwalking toward parenthood, needing direction to help me be the husband Kimberly deserves and the parent our children deserve.
With that said, my heart now aches for the pain that Dan and Diane, the children of Matthew and Mary and the brothers, Daniel and Jacob, are having to endure.
Hearing the news of their son's murder a year ago, I know they have had to dealt with the natural grieving process of a loss of a close loved one, the unnatural grief caused by the loss of a child, the most cruel realization that his killer was one he and they held most dear, enduring one's faith being attacked as a backward cult-like faction and finally having their child's reputation dragged through the mire of character assassination without restraint and accountability.
Dan and Diane have truly endured the trials that only Job could understand and empathize with. They have maintained a model of Christ-like living, exhibiting dignity, restraint, poise, and grace throughout this media-driven madness. They have showed the love for their son by being respectful and graceful to his accused killer.
There are no winners now that that the jury has announced its decision, only losers. Guilt or innocence did not bring back the father to three bewildered children, whose memories of their father will soon begin to fade prematurely. Guilt or innocence did not erase the deed that Mary has admitted to doing. Guilt or innocence did not wash away the accusations on Matthew's character. And finally, guilt or innocence did not bring back the warm embrace of the grieving mother, earnestly desiring to hold the life that she brought into this world.
The decision of voluntary manslaughter does not undo the harm done, but justice demanded that a verdict be rendered for all the wrongs done to the most innocent — both man's attempt in its decision today and God's final judgment in the eternal realm."
Please pray for all involved.