Winkler picked the girls up Friday from their paternal grandparents, Dan and Diane Winkler.
Custody lawyer Rachael Putnam said the children will live with Winkler at her home near McMinnville, about 60 miles southeast of Nashville, according to an Associated Press report.
Putnam said a court order giving Winkler custody of the children has not been completed.
Winkler, who was convicted in a sensational trial in April, 2007, shot her husband Matthew Winkler in the back in March, 2006, as he lay in bed. At the time of his death, he was the minister for the Fourth Street congregation in Selmer, Tenn.
Matthew Winkler’s parents took custody of the children and sued in an attempt to terminate the rights of the mother and to allow them to adopt the children. The case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which denied their appeal.
Mary received probation for most of her three-year sentence, spending only 12 days in jail after her sentencing and two months in a mental health facility before being released.
“That a woman can kill her husband in cold blood and still gain custody of their children underscores the bias and prejudice divorced fathers face in the family courts,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, Executive Director of Fathers & Families, in reaction to the news.
“The courts have failed Winkler’s daughters by placing them in the care of a mother who has shown no remorse for the cold-blooded murder of their father. Domestic violence groups have also failed these girls by their silence in this case, giving the appearance that they oppose domestic violence only when it is perpetrated by men,” he said.