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CrimeAttorney wants homicide charge dismissed in New Berlin killing

00:55  22 may  2019
00:55  22 may  2019 Source:   jsonline.com

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Attorney wants homicide charge dismissed in New Berlin killing© Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

NEW BERLIN - James E. Farris did not intend to kill his wife, nor is there enough evidence that he caused her death, his defense attorney contends in a motion.

The 59-year-old New Berlin man is facing a first-degree intentional homicide charge in the death of his wife, Linda, who according to a criminal complaint, died in a violent struggle April 28 inside their Highpointe Drive home.

But in a motion to dismiss that charge, attorney Anthony Cotton contends that Linda Farris was the "primary aggressor" in a fight that erupted from an argument about the care of their totally dependent daughter. The struggle that ended when James Farris fell on top of her did not meet a key legal standard for the charge, Cotton said.

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"The 'four corners of the complaint' do not show probable cause that Mr. Farris intentionally killed Linda," Cotton wrote in the motion filed May 20 in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Cotton said the complaint mentions an autopsy, but does does not specify the cause of death, clouding a standard which requires that Farris' action must have been a "substantial factor" in his wife's death.

Nor does the complaint satisfy the definition of "intent," which requires that Farris would have had "the mental purpose to take the life of another human being" or was aware that his actions were "practically certain to cause her death," Cotton said in the motion.

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It was Linda Farris who dug her nails into her husband's arms as they wrestled and punched him at least once in the head before they fell to the floor, knocking her unconscious, Cotton said.

According to the complaint, James Farris admitted something to authorities of which they were well aware — that he and his wife had previously had some "knock-down, drag-out" arguments in the past.

"But nothing like this," Farris said, according to the complaint.

Cotton said the complaint acknowledges that Farris seemed concerned about his wife, telling the responding police officers at the scene "you need to help her." That reaction also contradicts the "intent to kill" standard of the law, he added.

Judge Michael P. Maxwell took no immediate action on Cotton's motion. The Waukesha County District Attorney's Office declined to be interviewed or comment on the motion or the ongoing case.

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Farris, who faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, is also charged with two counts of bail jumping, based on conditions set in charges from earlier incidents, including one which specified Farris have no violent contact with his wife.

Farris remains in custody on a $1 million cash bond pending a preliminary hearing set for June 7.

Contact Jim Riccioli at (262) 446-6635 or james.riccioli@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jariccioli.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Attorney wants homicide charge dismissed in New Berlin killing

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