Woman accused in stabbing death of husband pleads not guilty to manslaughter

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A Fouke, Ark., woman pleaded not guilty to manslaughter Tuesday in the January stabbing death of her husband.

Tarah Wynette Fries, 25, made a brief court appearance before Miller County Circuit Judge Carlton Jones in a courtroom at the Miller County Correctional Center. Texarkana attorney John Pickett entered a not guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter on Tarah Fries’ behalf which was formally filed last month by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell.

James Fries, 35, died of a single stab wound to the chest he suffered in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 5, according to a probable cause affidavit. James and Tarah Fries had allegedly been arguing through the night of Jan. 4 and into the early hours of the following day before Miller County sheriff’s deputies and paramedics were summoned to a house on Miller County Road 10 around 2 a.m. Emergency medical technicians attempted to render aid to James Fries, whom they found lying on the ground outside the house, but he died of his wound.

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The couple’s three young children, ages 7, 5 and 2, were in the home as was James Fries’ 18-year-old son from a previous relationship. The older son told investigators he had gone outside to escape the sound of his father and Tarah Fries arguing when James Fries came running out of the house asking to be taken to a hospital.

The 18-year-old said Tarah Fries came out as he searched for keys to a car. Because he believed Tarah Fries too intoxicated to drive, the older son refused to let her pilot a car shortly before his father collapsed on the ground. Tarah Fries called 911.

She allegedly told investigators that James Fries wanted her cell phone because it contained photos of him using illegal drugs. She said she had locked herself in the bathroom with a knife when James Fries kicked down the door and fell on the blade she held.

Tarah Fries is currently free on a $10,000 bond. Jones scheduled her to return to court next month for a pretrial hearing. She faces three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 if convicted of manslaughter.

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