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The two faces of Todd Winkler

A former jet fighter pilot with a secret, dark past kills his wife -- but swears it wasn't murder

Produced by Clare Friedland, Anthony Venditti and Gail Abbott Zimmerman

[This story was first broadcast on Dec. 13, 2014. It was updated on Dec. 12, 2015.]

PLACERVILLE, Calif. --Cameron Park, east of Sacramento, is one of a handful of communities for pilots where private planes share the streets with cars.

Pilot Phil Albee has lived there for 10 years.

"It's a unique community for people who like to fly," Albee explained. "Well, an outsider might be surprised when he first comes in ... the cars and the airplanes share the same streets for taxiing and for driving. They're gonna find that people have airplanes sitting out in front of their house instead of cars."

Rachel and Todd Winkler wedding photo
Todd and Rachel Winkler at their wedding celebration in 2005.
Don Hatfield

Todd and Rachel Winkler fit right in here. Todd, the former fighter pilot, loved to fly. And the couple apparently could afford the $860,000 house now that he was a successful pharmaceutical executive. They married just weeks after they met. A romantic might think it was love at first sight.

Rachel's father, Don Hatfield, isn't that romantic.

"I didn't like it. It seemed strange," Hatfield told "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger. "One lady that had dated Todd was begging, begging Rachel not to do it. Told me to try to stop her."

"One of Todd's ex-girlfriends told you to stop the marriage?" Schlesinger asked.

"'Not let it happen. Please do not do this,'" Hatfield said of the woman's warning. "She saw some things in Todd that were somewhat egocentric."

"You took her advice and said to your daughter, what?" Schlesinger asked.

"'Why are you doing this so fast? We don't know this guy, this doesn't seem like a good idea,'" Hatfield replied.

"And what did Rachel say?"

"'Dad ... I know what I'm doing, I know what I wanna do. And he's a family man, he's a successful businessman.' She was set on doing it," said Hatfield.

And Winkler could be charming.

"Do you believe she loved him?" Schlesinger asked Hatfield.

"At some point, yes, I do," he replied.

In time, Winkler also charmed his father-in-law.

"...because he seemed like a fun guy and he almost always was ... courteous, kind and respectful of me," said Hatfield.

Todd and Rachel soon had three children: Eva, Ariel and Alex. With Todd Winkler behind bars awaiting trial for their mother's murder, they are being raised by their grandfather.

"How hard was it for you, Don Hatfield, supposed to be retired, to all of a sudden -- like that -- take on responsibility for three children?" Schlesinger asked.

"Really hard," Hatfield said. "I mean it would be like saying how am I going to get in shape for this marathon in the next year? I'm going do it, but boy it's gonna be hard."

"Do the kids ask about their mother? Do they know what happened?" Schlesinger asked.

"Yeah, Eva ... I mean this is after a couple of weeks after being with her, and having her in this incredible voice say, 'Mommy don't leave me, Mommy don't leave me, Mommy don't leave me.'" Hatfield recalled. "It really got to me. I mean, I haven't ever forgotten it."

It's small comfort, but Rachel's memory lives on in dozens of Hatfield's paintings.

"She had such an exquisite beauty to her," he said, choking up.

"Napa Bounty" painting by artist Don Hatfield
One of several Don Hatfield paintings featuring his daughter, Rachel. This one is titled "Napa Bounty."
Don Hatfield

Hatfield is a renowned impressionist artist and his daughter was his muse.

"It's what I felt about her as my little girl," he explained, "One of the major joys of my life that, you know, when I painted her face I painted better."

But in the years after marrying Winkler, Rachel seemed to lose that special quality her father had captured on canvas, according to her close friend Brandy Stanley.

"The light in her eyes seemed to be dimming," Stanley said. "If I were to ask her, 'how are things with Todd?' Rather than saying, 'Oh, they're great' or you know, 'we're happy,' she would say things like, 'It's OK, I'll be fine.'"

"Hardly a ringing endorsement of a marriage," Schlesinger noted.

"Right," Stanley said. "Basically she told me that she lived much worse off than anyone that she knew, but her husband made more money than most people she knew."

Asked what she made of that, Stanley said, "I kind of assumed maybe that they had acquired a lot of debt."

Rachel took a job as office manager at the Cameron Airpark. It was a struggle to work and take care of the children. Todd was away all week at his job near San Francisco. And Rachel complained that he had abandoned the renovations they had started at their home.

"She called it a danger zone or a biohazard because there was nothing finished and the outside looked well-groomed and clean but inside it was rugs and tile and stacks of wood," said Hatfield.

Winkler's charm was wearing off. Rachel was telling Brandy Stanley all about it in e-mails.

"Todd values experiences over relationships. He wants a teammate more than a soul mate,'" Stanley said, reading an e-mail aloud.

And Rachel's messages became more ominous in the months leading up to her death.

"'I fell in love with a creep which serves me right,'" Stanley said, reading another e-mail.

Rachel had decided to get a divorce. Then a final, chilling phone call.

"Actually the last thing she ever said to me was, 'I've realized that Todd's a pathological liar, Brandy,'" Stanley said, her eyes welling with tears. "And then she ended the phone call pretty quickly and said she'd call me later. And later never came."

On the morning of Feb. 27, 2012, police received a 911 call from Winkler's neighbor -- a lawyer. Winkler had just called him and told him that Rachel was dead:

911 Operator: 911 what's your emergency?

Caller: I'm calling to report a fatality.

911 Operator: What happened there?

Caller: My understanding it was a domestic, uh, dispute, fight, confrontation.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene, they recorded audio of Todd Winkler surrendering.

Winkler told them where they could find Rachel's body.

Officer: So where -- where is your wife?

Todd Winkler: When you enter the house, you turn to the right, the first bedroom on the right.

Officer: And you're sure she's dead?

Todd Winkler: I'm positive.

Officer: How can you be -- how are you sure?

Todd Winkler: No pulse, no breathing.

And Winkler knew how Rachel died. He waived his rights and spoke to investigators for more than an hour without asking for a lawyer. He told them he and Rachel were having an argument over custody of the children. He said he hit her in anger and was apologizing when she came at him with those scissors.

Todd Winkler Interrogation: And it was a long, long, long protracted struggle ... She's a very strong girl. She's an extremely strong girl. ...She's in much better shape than me.

Todd Winkler claims he was fighting for his life.

Todd Winkler Interrogation: It's a kill -- kill or be killed kind of situation.

But there were problems with his story almost immediately.

SECRETS AND SCHEMES?

James White is a former Marine who served in Desert Storm. He's also a gun enthusiast and a martial artist -- a tough guy who gets a little mushy when he talks about Rachel Winkler, the woman he calls the love of his life.

Rachel Winkler
Rachel Winkler

"She had a beautiful smile. She had a magnetic personality, and she was just absolutely perfectly nice," he said.

"How often do you think of her these days?" Schlesinger asked.

"Every moment of every day," he replied. He still listens to her phone messages.

White and Rachel met in September of 2009, when Rachel started managing the airpark.

"So you worked at this little airport? What did you do?" Schlesinger asked White.

"Whatever Rachel needed me to do. A couple of times I repainted lines, fixed the roof," he replied.

Her marriage to Todd Winkler was already on the rocks, and within months, Rachel and White began an affair.

"Did she seem different?" Schlesinger asked Brandy Stanley.

"She seemed happier," she replied.

Rachel confided in her close friend that she had fallen in love, but felt guilty about getting divorced.

"She wanted to do right by God and stay married, but she didn't know if that was something she could actually do," said Stanley.

Winkler found out about the affair - and by all accounts was trying to win back his wife. But Rachel seemed to know a side of him that frightened her.

"She said, 'if anything ever happens to me, I want you to look at Todd. And I want you to look up my kids when they get older and tell 'em how much I loved 'em,'" said White.

"Wait a minute," Schlesinger said. "She told you if something happened to her..."

"...to look at Todd," said White.

The morning of Feb. 27, 2012, no one had to look very far after Todd Winkler admitted stabbing Rachel to death.

The murder weapon
Under questioning, Todd Winkler told investigators that following an argument Rachel attacked him with these scissors.
El Dorado County Courthouse

After Winkler told police the detailed story of a life-or-death struggle over those scissors, prosecutor Lisette Suder started cutting it apart.

Winkler interrogation: We got in a fight... and she turns around and she's coming at me with a "V" of scissors.

Officer: Uh huh.

Winkler: And I got a hold of them. We had a struggle...

"So Todd Winkler says that he was having an argument with his wife and she turned, right, and came at him with a pair of scissors open like this," Schlesinger said, holding a pair of scissors in a "V" shape pointed towards Suder. "And you're smiling. Why?"

"It's ridiculous," she replied. "Who comes at somebody with scissors that way? It just doesn't make any sense."

Suder insists that Rachel did not come at him at all.

"This wasn't a fight," she explained. "The only struggle would have been her trying to defend herself as he's attacking her."

"Did she have a chance?" Schlesinger asked Suder.

"She had no chance. She was 110 pounds, 5'3". He is over 240, over double her body weight," she replied.

So if this was not a case of self-defense, why would Todd Winkler decide to kill his wife that night? He had known about the affair with James White for well over a year.

"She told a friend of hers that day that she had made her final decision and she was leaving him," Suder explained.

Rachel's father believes Winkler killed his wife because she knew his secrets.

"He wanted to shut her up," Don Hatfield said. "She had the goods on him. ... She could probably make his life very difficult."

It's not clear exactly how many secrets Rachel knew, but Winkler had a history of bizarre, possibly psychiatric, episodes.

"This is a very disturbed individual," said Peter Hecht, a reporter with the Sacramento Bee and a CBS News consultant.

winklerfightingsamuraism.jpg

It turns out Winkler's history of strange outbursts dates back to his time in the Air Force. He was stationed in the Far East with a squadron known as the "Fighting Samurai." Winkler seemed to develop an obsession.

"He sees himself in the image of the Samurai," said Hecht.

"You are not Bushido!" Winkler exclaimed in court.

Loosely translated, "Bushido" is the Samurai code of honor. And while he was still in the military, Winkler apparently took great offense... when he was caught shoplifting from the PX and questioned by his commander.

"... and he erupts, screaming. ...He screams at his commanding officer," Hecht explained. "He lands in ... psychiatric care in an Army hospital in Hawaii. ...They ultimately let him go on a 50 percent psychiatric disability."

Years later, in the months before he killed Rachel, Winkler's behavior was getting more erratic and more frightening to her. He was once again taken to a hospital, apparently suffering from some sort of nervous breakdown after becoming enraged at his employer -- a large pharmaceutical company.

"And he claimed that he had no sleep, and they were pushing him too hard," said Suder.

But Rachel reportedly told friends it was all an act.

"He called her ... and told her that he faked it because he wanted to sue his company," said Suder.

But it was another scheme of Winkler's that, according to her father, had Rachel especially alarmed. He says Winkler wanted to collect insurance money by staging a car crash.

"He suggested to Rachel staging an accident where a car goes off a cliff?" Schlesinger asked Hatfield.

"Bingo," he replied.

That idea was so frightening because it was so familiar. Todd Winkler had been married before. And Rachel knew his previous wife, Catherine, was killed in a fiery car crash off a mountainside in Georgia. And Winkler said it was an accident.

"It was sort of like a lightbulb went off in her head and she realized, 'Wow, this is a very scary man and I'm very afraid of him,'" said Suder.

"You know, I'm thinkin, she's gotta get out of there," said Hatfield, who remembered something else his daughter had recently told him. "Rachel had found a box of ashes - that were the ashes of his previous wife ... and said, 'I hope I never, you know, become ashes.' And he said, 'Well, just don't ever make me mad.'"

"What do you believe she thought he was capable of?" Schlesinger asked Suder.

"Killing. Murder," she replied. "Deep down, she knew that."

"The last day I saw her, she said, 'I don't feel comfortable with Todd in the house anymore, and I'm not gonna stay there with him when he comes home on weekends.' I said 'OK, stay with me. Bring the kids,'" said White.

"And how soon after that did she die?" Schlesinger asked.

"The next morning I got the call," White replied.

Now Todd Winkler was twice a widower. Was he merely unlucky?

"What are the chances that this could just be a fluke?" Schlesinger asked Suder.

"Well ... someone who wins the lottery once is envied. Someone who wins the lottery twice is investigated," she replied.

THE DEATH OF CATHERINE WINKLER

In September 1999, Michael Hodnett and Woody DePew were camping in Georgia's remote Chattahoochee National Forest when they were awakened in the middle of the night.

"... we heard someone running through our campsite yellin', 'Help, help, help, help,'" Hodnett recalled. "There was a guy saying his wife had died."

It was Todd Winkler. And he said he'd just survived a terrible accident -- that his wife had driven their truck off a dirt road and plunged down a steep mountainside. He said he was ejected on the way down.

"His voice was just heartbroken, 'help, help' kind of sound," said DePew.

The campers immediately set out to see if Winkler's wife could still be alive.

Todd Winkler with his previous wife, Catherine.
Todd Winkler married Catherine Carlisle in 1991.
Christina Carlisle

Catherine Winkler was Todd's previous wife. She and her sister, Christina Carlisle, were military brats.

"She was easy on the eyes and had a nice personality. So, she didn't have problems meeting guys," Carlisle explained. "At the time that she met Todd, she was actually dating another pilot."

Catherine was 23. And, just like Rachel did, she dated Todd just very briefly before marrying him.

"Cathy was sorta glowing, you know?" Carlisle explained. "I think he swept her off her feet. And he was going to be stationed over in Japan and wanted to take her with him."

She stood by her husband when he had that mental breakdown that landed him in the hospital in Hawaii.

"She really wanted him to get therapy," Carlisle said. "And Todd was not interested in that. So she was concerned about that."

They eventually settled in Georgia, where Winkler was starting his own Internet business. They were together for eight years when they went camping in 1999, and Winkler turned to those strangers for help.

"I knew ... if we were gonna save this girl, we -- we gotta get to the truck," said Hodnett.

Hodnett and DePew soon learned how tough their rescue mission would be.

"When we came around the corner the whole side of the mountain was on fire," said Hodnett.

Still, they raced down the hill towards the burning wreck 200 feet below while, they say, Winkler waited by the road.

The hill is so steep, that when the men went back to the site with "48 Hours," they used ropes.

"I mean, you can see the steepness of it. It's-- it's very steep," Hodnett pointed out. "We have to use this 200 foot rappellin' rope to hold us up."

winkler-crash2.jpg
On Sept. 26, 1999, Catherine Winkler was killed in a car accident while camping in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia.
El Dorado County Courthouse

"You can see the tree over here where the truck ... came to a stop right here facin' down on its side with the wheels, kind of, in that direction," he continued.

Catherine Winkler never had a chance.

"I knew that there was no saving her," Hodnett said. "I'm picturin' the truck sittin' on its side in flames right now. That's what I see right now."

Winkler told Hodnett and DePew that he was thrown from the truck when it careened down the hill. He searched for his wife and then scrambled up the embankment.

"I just don't see how someone could be ... ejected with no injury," Hodnett said. "It just doesn't seem like he would not be hurt."

And, why, they wondered, did it take Winkler so long to ask for help?

"...with the -- vehicle being surrounded by flames that are 18, 20-foot-tall ... I would've said the vehicle would've had to easily been on fire for an hour," said DePew.

Rick Johnson, who was then a deputy sheriff, was the first cop on the scene.

"There were two persons involved in the accident," he explained. "One was at the top of the mountain and one was at the bottom of the mountain. One was ... in the vehicle burned. ...and the other was at the top of the mountain without a scratch on 'em."

Winkler told him that Catherine had been speeding to the hospital because he needed medical help for an allergic reaction to an insect bite. But Johnson wrote in his report, "he never showed us any bite."

"Do you believe he was bitten by a bug?" Schlesinger asked Johnson.

"No sir. I don't believe he was bitten by anything," he replied.

Like the campers, Johnson felt Winkler's story did not add up.

"Was he movin' OK?" Schlesinger asked.

"He was movin' fine," said Johnson.

Johnson followed procedure and handed off the case to more seasoned investigators. They said Winkler was "emotional" and seemed to buy into his story. And they later noted that he had a knee injury and a "large scrape and bruise" on his arm.

"So you are certain that he had no bruises, no scratches, nothin' on his body when you first saw him that night?" Schlesinger pressed.

"Yes, sir. Certain that he -- nothin' was wrong with him," said Johnson.

Police had allowed Winkler to return to his campsite to collect his belongings. He went without the police. And that's where Johnson believes he got those injuries.

"You think he did it to himself?" Schlesinger asked.

"I think it was all self-inflicted," Johnson replied.

Catherine's autopsy showed she died from "soot and smoke inhalation" and "thermal burns." Her body was "100 percent charred." But the pathologist found "no evidence of foul play." So Catherine Winkler's death, to this day, is officially considered "an accident."

"My questions I have are did she suffer? Was she in a lotta pain when she passed?" Carlisle said in tears.

Carlisle says she had sensed that something had soured in her sister's marriage ... and Winkler collected nearly $1.2 million in life insurance. Then, in 2012, when she learned that Rachel was also dead, she became convinced that Todd Winkler got away with murder.

"Perhaps if the investigation in Georgia had been thorough, that maybe Rachel would not have died," said Carlisle.

Looking back, Rick Johnson wishes he's done more.

"If you got that feelin' that it ain't right, it ain't right," he said.

Asked if he feels guilt, Johnson told Schlesinger, "I feel somethin' ... I guess it might be a little guilt."

California prosecutor Lisette Suder understands that.

"I think anybody would feel a sense of, 'Wow, had we put this together or known what we know now, then Rachel Winkler wouldn't be dead. We could have saved a life,'" she said. "But no, he shouldn't feel guilty."

But Suder does want a jury to hear the details of Catherine's death as they hear the details of Rachel's at Todd Winkler's murder trial.

A CRIMINAL MASTERMIND?

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is a case about a mastermind, a manipulator ... and how he brutally murdered Rachel Marie Winkler," Suder told the court in her opening statement.

The prosecutor had a lot of material to work with when the Todd Winkler murder trial opened in September 2014. A lot of it came from Winkler himself, who talked to detectives for more than an hour after killing his wife.

Winkler interrogation: Once I, you know, started to get the upper hand -- I just -- I pushed the scissors in as far as I could ...

Some of Suder's best material has nothing to do with Rachel's death. Winkler has said that was self-defense. But the judge allowed Suder to tell the jury the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Winkler's previous wife.

"There was an accident ... the only survivor was this defendant," Suder told the court.

So defense attorney David Weiner had his hands full.

"What are the chances that one man would have two wives die?" Schlesinger asked Weiner. "Is this guy just really unlucky or is there somethin' more to it?"

"Well, I think that's just life," Weiner replied.

"Your explanation basically boils down to - 'stuff happens.'"

"It does. Life goes on. Life happens," said Weiner.

Catherine Winkler's death in Georgia is one of the first things Suder talks about to the jury.

"She's found burned to death down a steep embankment where the car went," Suder told the court. "And the defendant is -- very fine with just a few minor scratches on him."

And that's when things got a little hairy. Winkler began slapping his head and yelling:

Todd Winkler: You are not Samurai!

Bailiff: Stop.

Todd Winkler: You do not speak truth!

Bailiff: Stop. Stop...

Todd Winkler: You only want to destroy!

Bailiff: Stop.

Todd Winkler: You have no Bushido! You have no Bushido!

"What happened that first day when your client had that outburst?" Schlesinger asked Weiner.

"I'm not sure. I'll tell you one thing. That was not planned," he replied.

"I was looking at him in the eyes through the whole thing. I -- to me, it was incredibly fake," said Suder.

Suder has already said she believes faking illness is part of Winkler's M.O. And she says he hasn't just faked mental illness. To get special treatment at work, he's also claimed over the years that he had cancer -- and not just once.

"He shaved his head. ...even, like, I think shaved his eyebrows," said Suder.

"Did he have cancer?" Schlesinger asked.

"He did not," she said.

"And he did it again?"

"He did a different type of -- faked a different type of cancer at a different job," Suder explained.

And so she says, it's not so hard to believe Winkler is lying about defending himself against his 110-pound wife that morning in February 2012.

"What do you believe happened in that bedroom early that morning?" Schlesinger asked Suder.

"He took a pair of scissors and he went in there while she was asleep," she replied.

Suder says he stabbed her and left her for dead -- but Rachel wasn't dead. By Winker's own account, he came back. This time he was wearing a motorcycle jacket for protection:

Todd Winkler interrogation: And I got up and, kind of out of the room, and ran to my car.

I tripped and fell forward when I rushed into the room. She kicked me in the -- in the face. And then we got into -- another subsequent struggle.

"He comes back and now," Suder told Schlesinger. "...he makes his decision that he is going to kill her."

"He takes those scissors and this ex-fighter-pilot jams them into her neck," the prosecutor told the court. "And he sits there and lays there on top of her while she slowly dies."

After he killed Rachel, Suder says Winkler spent more than six hours cleaning up and feeding the kids who were in the house the whole time. After that, Suder says the evidence shows he inflicted wounds on his hands.

"...if he were truly injured before -- then there would have been blood. He was touching baby bottles. He was touching-- a Fruit Loop-type of cereal for the children. He was touching their bowls," Suder told Schlesinger. "There is no blood anywhere in the kitchen area on any of those items."

But if Todd Winkler is a criminal mastermind as Suder has argued, Winkler's attorney David Weiner says he sure didn't act like one.

"He sits down right away with law enforcement officers," said Weiner.

Officer: You got the scissors away from her ... what were you doing with them at the time...

Todd Winkler interrogation: Striking her...

"I mean he's saying things that do not help him," Weiner said. "He is just -- he's baring -- baring it all."

At trial, Winkler took the stand. The judge wouldn't allow cameras to record any testimony, but Winkler made a damaging admission: he wanted Rachel to die.

"I believe he helped the prosecution," said Suder.

Winkler's biggest problem was himself -- his admission that he didn't call anyone for six hours:

Winkler interrogation: I shut the door to -- Rachel's room and -- yeah. Just tried to make the house not look like a bloody scene.

And, most chilling, his own account of what Rachel said just before he killed her:

Winkler interrogation: She was saying, "We'll resolve this. We'll resolve this." ... She was -- begging for -- her life.

"Rachel was begging for her life. Why didn't that make him stop?" Schlesinger asked Weiner.

"She's assaulted him two times now ... with a deadly weapon. Why would he trust her at that point?" he replied. "If it was -- a rattlesnake right there -- in your face and you had a hold of it and you're able to cut its head off, and that rattlesnake could talk to you, say, 'We can work this out. It'll be OK. Just let me go.'"

So why did Todd Winkler feel the need to so ferociously defend himself against his tiny wife? Dr. Frank Lossy has a theory.

"In fact, he has two neurotic disorders. One is called a dissociative disorder. One is called conversion disorder," he said.

Dr. Lossy, an expert witness for the defense, has practiced psychiatry since 1947. In a nutshell, he says a dissociative disorder produces a disconnect with reality. A conversion disorder can produce other odd symptoms.

"Conversion disorder is where -- a mental state is converted into a physical disability," he explained.

Dr. Lossy says Winkler had both disorders that day. His right hand was paralyzed by the conversion disorder, and so Winkler felt vulnerable and weak.

"He thought it's just, 'Either she's gonna kill me or I'm gonna kill her,'" Dr. Lossy explained.

"Do you believe that he was, in reality, vulnerable and weak?" Schlesinger asked.

"Yes. I do," Dr. Lossy replied.

Of course Suder believes Dr. Lossy's theory is vulnerable and weak.

"Do you believe that he -- was partially paralyzed in the midst of this fight?" Schlesinger asked.

"Absolutely not," Suder replied.

Suder says Todd Winkler is just putting on another act and she's about to tell the jurors exactly how she believes he ended up with two dead wives.

TWO DEAD WIVES

"He said he wanted her to die. His own statement," Prosecutor Lisette Suder said in her closing. "'I want her to die.'"

After 12 days of testimony, it is time for closing arguments. Suder tells the jury, Rachel Winkler's injuries tell the story.

"Look at the injuries on her neck. Look how many times he has control of those scissors and he is stabbing repeatedly- there, there, there, there..." she said, showing jurors the graphic images.

"This is not self-defense. Look at the difference between her hands and his hands," Suder continued, showing side-by-side photos to the court.

But defense attorney David Weiner says Rachel was the aggressor.

"All of a sudden she's got -- she's coming at him with a pair of scissors. And there's a struggle. And he describes it as -- as a struggle that takes some time, that she was one tough customer,"

He seems to know it's a tough sell.

"This is not a murder case, ladies and gentlemen. This is a self-defense case, or at most --- it's a voluntary manslaughter case," Weiner addressed the court.

"'Or at most -- a voluntary manslaughter case.' At most," Schlesinger commented to Weiner. "To me that didn't sound like a guy who was convinced that his client is absolutely innocent."

"Well, then maybe I shouldn't have-- said that," he replied.

"Why did you say that?"

"Because," said Weiner, "there's some room to argue there."

In his closing argument, Weiner made no mention of Winkler's outburst. He also never mentioned the psychiatric disorders. But Suder did -- to discredit the defense.

"All of a sudden in the middle of the struggle he now can't use his right arm and his right hand. And it only lasts for a few minutes. He's able to then clean. ...He's able to get Band Aids. ...He's able to do all these different things, but for that brief moment when he was killing her, he now has paralysis," Suder told jurors.

Suder reminded the jury that Rachel was not the first of Winkler's wives to die and that Winkler collected more than $1 million in life insurance after his previous wife, Catherine, died in that awful crash.

"Why did he kill Cathy? He killed Cathy for financial gain," Suder told Schlesinger.

And she says Winkler killed Rachel for the same reason: money.

"He wasn't fine with having to pay her money to leave him and have to pay child support and spousal support," Suder explained.

The prosecutor argued there are too many similarities between the two deaths.

"The defendant has now had two dead wives. And in both cases ... he's the only witness," Suder told the court. "He waits before contacting anyone. ...His stories change. ...And he comes up with injuries after the fact."

But Catherine Winkler's death was ruled an accident -- and that ruling stands to this day.

"If you're gonna find that Todd Winkler killed Cathy Winkler you have to rely on wild, blind, idiotic speculation," Weiner stressed in his closing.

Now it's up to the jury to decide. Don Hatfield knows the state presented a strong case very well, but now, waiting for the verdict, he still can't help but worry ... what if?

It took the jury less than five hours to reach a verdict: guilty.

Rachel's father cried and her boyfriend hugged his daughter. Todd Winkler did not seem to react at all -- as he was led away in shackles.

Six weeks later, Todd Winkler was back in court to be sentenced. And Don Hatfield got his chance to be heard.

"The pain and anguish my family and Rachel's friends have endured since this vile act is unimaginable," Hatfield addressed the judge. "These beautiful children were orphaned in one cruel deed. How will I ever explain, or even comment on the question 'Why did daddy kill mommy?' ... Rachel's children will prevail in this life, but they will never see their mother again."

Then, Todd Winkler spoke.

"I would just say, Your Honor, I feel deep remorse for what's happened, and for Rachel's family, for my family, and especially for my children," said Winkler.

Judge Kenneth Melikian answered Winkler.

"Mr. Winkler ... you are not the victim in this case," he said. "Rachel Winkler is the victim in this case."

And then, Judge Melikian handed down the sentence: 26 years-to-life for murdering Rachel.

Catherine Winkler's sister, Christina Carlisle, is still hoping for a new investigation into Catherine's death.

"Just struggling for answers and wanting justice for my sister," she said.

Rachel's friend, Brandy Stanley, got the justice she was looking for. But whatever comfort that provides cannot make up for the loss she still feels.

"I miss her in so many ways," Stanley said. "We talked a lot about bringing our kids up together. ...We had waited 20 years for that to happen."

And Don Hatfield, who knows the awful pain of losing a daughter, says he still feels Rachel's presence every day through his grandchildren, whom he will continue to raise.

"I want Eva, Ariel and Alex to know that they had a mother who loved them very much," he said, "and that she's with God and God is not far away, and neither is their mother."

Todd Winkler is appealing his conviction.

He says evidence of Catherine's death should not have been allowed at trial.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"