Slain Cameron Park mother's kids at center of custody battle

Grandparents fight in court for full custody of their grandchildren
By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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Less than a mile away from where his daughter was killed, Don Hatfield began the fight to keep custody of his grandchildren. Hatfield’s daughter, Rachel Winkler, was found dead in her Cameron Park home Feb. 27. Her husband, Todd Winkler, 45, remains in custody in El Dorado County Jail, charged with her murder. Hatfield, who has temporary custody of the Winkler children, was in court Thursday to gain full custody of his three young grandchildren as was Janet Winkler, the suspect’s mother. Judge Thomas Smith granted continued temporary custody of Eva, 4, Ariel, 2, and Alex, 9 months, to Hatfield pending the outcome of mediation and potentially a trial, should the concerned parties fail to come to an agreement during mediation. No agreement was made during the closed mediation session Thursday, according to Attorney Lilka Martinez, who represents Janet Winkler. “We started communication and that is a step in the right direction,” she said by phone Friday. Before Judge Smith, Martinez requested that her client’s son be granted phone contact with his children. This request did not sit well with Hatfield’s attorney, Wendy Coghlan. “Mrs. Martinez has no right to advocate for the incarcerated father who killed his wife,” she said. Judge Smith appointed Abigail Roseman to represent the Winkler children and did not make a judgment on the phone contact request. Todd Winkler has pleaded not guilty and contends the fatal stabbing of his wife, Rachel, was self-defense after she allegedly attacked him with scissors. Winkler’s body was found inside her airpark home. She had been stabbed to death. The couple’s three children were home at the time of the incident. According to Winkler, his wife was wielding a pair of scissors, stabbing him in the hands and thighs. He claims he wrestled the scissors away from her and stabbed her in the throat. Hatfield and Janet Winkler are scheduled to return to court May 16 for further discussions.