Updated: February 26, 2011 at 12:00 am
The arrest of a 32-year-old woman accused in the gruesome dragging death of a Colorado Springs tow-truck driver brought little comfort Saturday to some of the victim’s friends.
Detra Dione Farries was booked into El Paso County jail Friday evening on suspicion of manslaughter.
The felony carries maximum prison term of six years under Colorado sentencing guidelines — too light a penalty, according to people still horrified by events that led to the death of Allen Rose, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran and married father of two.
Rose, part owner of J & J Towing, was trying to remove an illegally parked GMC sport-utility vehicle from the Hill Park Apartments on North Murray Boulevard Wednesday morning when someone jumped inside the SUV and sped off.
Witnesses told The Gazette that Rose was chasing the fleeing vehicle when the tow cable he attached to the GMC snapped and wrapped around his legs.
People watched helplessly and attempted to flag down the SUV as Rose was dragged, screaming, through the streets of eastern Colorado Springs, leaving a trail of blood and tattered clothing.
Rose came loose at Platte Avenue and Babcock Road — more than a mile away.
The details of the death left friends clamoring for a murder charge against Farries.
“I think she got to the point where she didn’t care,” said apartment complex manager Kathryn Shelton, who counted Rose as a personal friend.
She added, “It should have been first-degree murder.”
Farries was being held in jail on a $50,000 bond pending a Monday hearing. She couldn’t be reached for comment and it wasn’t clear if she has an attorney.
Television stations in Colorado Springs quoted a cousin and a niece who said that Farries was unaware Rose was behind her and is distraught over his death.
To prove manslaughter, prosecutors must convince a jury that Farries “recklessly caused the death of another person” — but need not show that she was aware that Rose trailed the vehicle.
There’s a well-defined line between manslaughter and murder, said Mark Waller, a former prosecutor who now serves in the state House.
Boiled down, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a suspect knowingly or intentionally killed someone to get a murder conviction.
“The intent element for second-degree murder is knowledge,” said Waller, a Republican who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
Waller also said that the investigation in any case takes weeks or months, and new evidence can mean new charges.
“Keep in mind, they can amend those charges up and down,” said Waller, who was speaking generally about the law and has no direct knowledge of this case.
Rose’s business partner, John Stellabotte, said he has little doubt that Farries knew Rose was being dragged. Witnesses have approached him with a damning portrait of the woman, who, they alleged, clearly saw them as they ran after her vehicle, flashed their lights and screamed for her to stop.
“She shook her wheel from side to side to shake him off, and sped up,” Stellabotte said he was told.
“She definitely, in my eyes, was aware of what she was doing.”
Rose’s death led to a tribute Thursday in which dozens of tow-truck drivers met to retrace the path of the tragedy and pay their respects to Rose, whom many described as a conscientious family man who took his profession seriously.
Farries was stopped on the day of the dragging death, but police were silent about her identity, saying they were investigating.
According to the online police blotter, Farries was arrested on a warrant at 7:30 p.m. Friday, a day on which police spokesman Sgt. Steve Noblitt said no further information would be made public.
The news was approved for release at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, well after The Gazette’s deadline and television news stations’ final broadcasts.
Noblitt couldn’t be reached Saturday for comment on the arrest or an explanation of how police handled their announcement.
According to Shelton, Farries’ 1995 GMC Suburban was illegally parked at the complex for four days before the tow attempt. It was filled with trash and without license plates.
Apartment managers learned that Farries had been staying with her cousin, Bruce Knight, a resident of about three months.
Because Knight did not notify the front office that he had a guest, it’s unclear how long Farries had been staying there, Shelton said.
Guests are limited to staying two weeks. After that, they must leave or undergo a credit check and sign a lease.
Reggie Lawson, the assistant manager, said a car dealer had been seeking to repossess the vehicle for non-payment for the past four months — which he learned a day after the tragedy. A representative of the auto dealer couldn’t immediately be reached for confirmation.
News of the lesser felony charge reopened wounds at Hill Park Apartments, where employees used to stop for friendly chats with Rose and respected his calm, professional demeanor.
“After all this, the only thing I’m blown away by is the manslaughter charge,” Lawson said.
In what appears to be her Myspace.com profile, Detra Farries identifies herself as a student at Metropolitan State College of Denver pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work. She is apparently the wife of Terroll D. Farries Jr., who is serving a four-year-prison term in the Denver hit-and-run death of a 51-year-old woman on the night of Dec. 5, 2009.
The Denver Post reported that she defended her husband during his sentencing, calling him a good husband, father and person who made an unintentional mistake.
Terroll Farries’ mother also was killed in a hit-and-run crash, the Post reported.
Court records show that Detra Farries is seeking a divorce.
Call the writer at 636-0366.
Gazette reporter Tom Roeder contributed to this report.