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TMCNet:  Winkler may not get max sentence

[June 05, 2009]

Winkler may not get max sentence

Jun 05, 2009 (Kerrville Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When the Kerrville doctor convicted of four child pornography-related charges is sentenced later this month, he might not receive the maximum sentence of 50 years.


Dr. David Winkler was found guilty in January of one receipt and three possession charges during a trial in federal court in San Antonio. The maximum punishment is 20 years for the receipt charge and 10 years on each of the three possession charges. He also faces a fine of up to $1 million, according to court documents.

"Generally, you have to have extraordinary circumstances before a sentence is 'stacked,'" said San Antonio lawyer Ronald "Rusty" Guyer, one of Winkler's attorneys. "I don't think it's going to exceed 20 years." Winkler's sentencing was rescheduled for a third time. The hearing, previously reset for Friday, now will be at 10 a.m. on June 26 before U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez at the John H. Wood Jr. Federal Courthouse in San Antonio.

Guyer of San Antonio and Stanley Schneider of Houston last month filed a motion to postpone the hearing, citing a delay in the completion of the pre-sentence report, according to court documents.

The report, which since has been completed, serves as a reference document for the Bureau of Prisons on the detainee's medical history, family, education and previous employment.

Also included are sentencing guideline calculations, which range between 11 and 14 years for Winkler, Guyer added.

"The government can ask for more, and we can ask for less," Guyer said.

Winkler pleaded innocent and claimed to be a victim of identity theft when he was charged more than two years ago by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who linked him and thousands of others to paid, members-only child pornography Web sites.

Nearly 600 images and 44 videos of known child abuse victims were recovered from Winkler's home and office computers.

During a six-day trial in January, prosecutors pieced together building security logs, off-site and hospital medical database records, credit card charges and time stamps for child pornography files saved on Winkler's personal office computer. Forensic analysis reportedly showed Winkler toggled between patient files and child pornography downloads while he stayed late hours at his medical office.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys gave four identity theft examples -- an unauthorized credit card charge to Internet-service provider AOL, a collection account for a fraudulent purchase, an auto insurance claim on a vehicle Winkler didn't own and the use of Winkler's personal information to establish a domain name with an Internet address for a computer in Oklahoma.

The 37-year-old internal medicine specialist testified during the trial that he hadn't downloaded or viewed any child pornography videos or images. He explained under oath that he didn't notice credit card charges for access to child pornography Web sites, because he typically only looked at the total monthly balance on his statement and charges for hundreds of dollars or more.

Following the jury's decision in January, Winkler was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service and is being detained at the Central Texas Detention Center in downtown San Antonio. Since his conviction, family and friends have written letters attesting to his standing in the community and pleading for the least possible sentence.

"He (Winkler) has kept up his spirits," Guyer said. "As well as one could expect someone to be under the circumstances." In 2002, Winkler moved with his family to Kerrville to open a medical practice. Until his arrest for the child-pornography charges, the young doctor was considered in the medical community to be a rising star, holding several leadership positions, including assistant chief of staff in 2007 at Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, now Peterson Regional Medical Center.

To see more of the Kerrville Daily Times or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dailytimes.com/. Copyright (c) 2009, Kerrville Daily Times, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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