It was the shoe seen round the world. The eight-inch, stiletto heel was the turning point in the case of a Mid-South preacher's wife charged with his murder.
A new made-for-TV movie tells its own version of the Mary Winkler case and the alleged sexual abuse that lead to Matthew Winkler's death. But now, for the first time, one of Mary Winkler's attorneys has told the real story behind a discovery that changed everything about her case.
"It was the elephant in the room," said Steve Farese about the high heel. "What's this? Why is it here and who has been wearing the shoe?"
Farese teamed up with Leslie Ballin to defend Winkler during her murder trial. He said he found the shoe in the top of a closet in Matthew and Mary Winkler's Selmer bedroom. Farese said the shoe was a bombshell discovery to the defense team.
"We had not gotten the full story from Mary," Farese said.
After finding the shoe, Farese said Mary Winkler finally started opening up, telling her attorneys that her husband made her wear the shoes and a dark wig as a prelude to sex.
Farese and Ballin knew the effect that shoe would have on the jury. They believed it was a clue that gave credence to Mary's story about her abusive marriage.
The shoe was placed in a bag and handed to Mary Winkler while she was on trial.
"What's in the bag, Mary?" Farese asked his client, forcing her to remove the shoe and shocking the courtroom.
"Everyone gasped," Farese said.
Winkler's defense team wanted the shoe to be visible during her entire testimony. And it was. The shoe sat on a ledge next to Mary Winkler the entire time. Prosecutors never asked that it be taken down.
For more on the story or to read the full version, visit WMC-TV's website.
The Lifetime movie based on the case called The Pastor's Wife, airs again on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on Lifetime.