Fouke woman gets probation in husband’s stabbing death

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A Fouke, Ark., woman received a 10-year probation Tuesday after pleading no contest to manslaughter in Miller County.

Tarah Waynett Fries, 26, stood with Texarkana lawyer John Pickett at a hearing before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson at the Miller County Correctional Facility on Tuesday morning. Fries was charged with manslaughter following the Jan. 5, 2016, death of her husband, James Fries, at the couple’s home on Miller County 10 in Fouke.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Tarah and James Fries had been arguing throughout the night Jan. 4, 2016, and into the early hours of Jan. 5, 2016. Tarah Fries told investigators James Fries wanted to take her cell phone from her because it contained pictures of him he didn’t want others to see. Tarah Fries claimed James Fries fell on top of a steak knife she was holding when he kicked in the locked door of a bathroom where she’d taken refuge.

James Fries’ adult son from a prior relationship, who was present the night of James Fries’ death, told investigators he’d gone outside when his father ran out and asked to go to a hospital. The older son reported that he was unable to find car keys and refused to allow Tarah Fries to drive because she was intoxicated. James Fries died at the scene.

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Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell told Johnson that James Fries’ family approved of the plea bargain and that they had asked that she be required to receive treatment for substance abuse. Johnson called the victim’s family’s decision to okay a deal for probation a “remarkable kindness
,” and warned Tarah Fries that she faces up to 10 years in prison if she violates the terms of her probation.

Tarah Fries must undergo an assessment to determine the level of substance abuse treatment she needs and must complete any programs as directed by probation officials, Johnson ordered. She must also pay a $1,000 fine. Mitchell told Johnson she hopes Tarah Fries will be able to be a “good mother,” to her and James Fries’ three children, all under age 10, if she participates in treatment for alcohol abuse and remains sober.

“This is an extremely tragic situation,” Johnson said. “You’ve disrupted your life and your family’s lives and the lives of the family of the deceased are disrupted forever. Those scars will be with this family throughout their lives.”

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