From an article in the September 6th issue of the Evansville (IN) Courier & Press:
If Mary Winnecke wished death upon Eric Wrinkles, it would be easy to understand why. Wrinkles is a death-row inmate at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. He stands convicted of killing three people, including Winnecke's daughter, Natalie Fulkerson.
Natalie was only 26. Her death left behind two orphaned children and a world of pain for surviving loved ones. And Eric Wrinkles was the cause of it all.
But to understand why Winnecke wants Wrinkles to live — well, that's the story.
Winnecke says her Catholic faith compels her to oppose the death penalty and to pray for her daughter's killer. She does not believe the state should put Wrinkles to death, even though he ended Natalie's life.
"What right do they have to kill in her name?" Winnecke said.
This summer, Winnecke started a letter-writing campaign on Wrinkles' behalf. Columns in the Catholic Diocese of Evansville's weekly newspaper, "The Message," have outlined Winnecke's desire that fellow death-penalty opponents join her in writing to Gov. Mitch Daniel's office asking that Wrinkles' sentence be commuted to life in prison, and to end the death penalty altogether.
Winnecke wasn't always opposed to the death penalty. But when the topic came up in a Bible study group, she started to think and pray about it. Over time — she can't remember exactly when — she grew convinced that the death penalty is wrong in all cases.
Winnecke's opposition to the death penalty puts her among a growing number of Catholics who feel the same way, according to a local theology professor.
"For many faithful Catholics, opposition to the death penalty is consistent with our respect for all life from conception to natural death," said Mark Ginter, associate professor of moral theology at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind.
In 1980, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty.
And from later in the article:
The trauma of the brutal crime affected Winnecke mentally as well as emotionally.
Winnecke used to work as a legal secretary. Since Natalie's death, Winnecke said her ability to think in a linear fashion — her sense of time, her ability to remember daily details like friends' names — has been shattered.
"I don't go 'A-B-C' any more. The mind just doesn't do it," she said.
Winnecke holds Wrinkles fully responsible for his crimes.
"He deserves to spend his life in jail. He murdered three people. All his rights should be taken away," Winnecke said.
Even so, thinking of Wrinkles' execution fills Winnecke with dread.
"It's not going to bring me peace. It's not going to bring me nothing. ... It's just going to be a horrible day, the day he dies," Winnecke said.