May 23, 2011
A Colorado Springs woman accused in the dragging death of a tow-truck driver was ordered Monday to stand trial on the most serious charge she faces — leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
Detra Dione Farries, 33, also will be tried on 10 lesser counts in the Feb. 23 death of Allen Lew Rose.
Farries could be sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in prison if she's convicted of the hit-and-run charge.
The remaining counts include manslaughter and vehicular homicide, felonies that normally result in a maximum of six years in prison. If a judge were to find aggravating circumstances on any felony conviction, the penalties could be doubled.
Rose, the co-owner of J & J Towing in Colorado Springs, was attempting to tow an illegally parked GMC sport-utility vehicle when someone got inside the SUV and sped away, authorities said. His leg was snagged by a towing cable, and he was dragged more than a mile.
Farries was arrested two days later, on suspicion of recklessly causing his death.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Jann P. DuBois ruled on the hit-and-run charge Monday at the conclusion of a hearing that began May 6.
The preliminary hearing focused exclusively on whether prosecutors have enough evidence to support the hit-and-run charge. Prosecutors did not have to defend the remaining counts because a preliminary hearing was required only for Class 3 felonies and above.
In arguments before DuBois, prosecutor Jeff Lindsey said Farries nearly hit two pedestrians while fleeing the Hill Park Apartments at 360 N. Murray Blvd., and also ignored Rose’s efforts to flag her down.
At that point, Rose's tow truck had already been damaged, and Farries should have stopped, he said.
Instead, Farries drove until she found a suitable hiding place — “an obscure residential area” to which she had no ties, Lindsey said.
“Ms. Farries wasn’t going to stop until she got away,” Lindsey said.
Farries’ attorneys disputed that she was aware of the accident — or even that she was responsible for Rose’s death.
According to public defender Eydie Elkins, Rose disregarded proper tow procedures in his haste to collect a $70 hook-up fee.
“Tragically for Mr. Rose, this decision caused his own death,” she said.
Elkins focused on accounts by two eyewitnesses who told police that when Rose pulled into the Hill Park Apartments, Farries was already in the parking lot with a mechanic who was working on her daughter’s car.
The mechanic, Donald Hearn, saw Rose back up to the GMC and mentioned that it looked like somebody was about to get towed, Colorado Springs police detective Mike Montez testified Monday.
When Farries saw that it was her vehicle, she walked toward it, got inside and started it up, all without addressing Rose.
Montez testified that according to Hearn and his nephew, Christopher Dunlap, Rose then got out of his tow truck, grabbed his cable and either placed or threw tow hooks on Farries’ rear axle.
Dunlap said it looked like Rose tried to jump on the cable as Farries drove away, Montez testified.
“It was completely unforeseeable from her perspective that a tow-truck driver would attach a tow cable to her rear axle after she started it up,” Elkins said.
Lindsey noted that the cable was “dancing and swinging around” and asked if Rose could have been jumping out of the way.
Lindsey also questioned Montez about his suspicions that Hearn and Dunlap seemed to be recycling information they had heard rather than seen.
Defense attorneys emphasized evidence that Farries may not have been able to see Rose being dragged behind her because of the condition of her vehicle.
The GMC was raised up “like a mud truck.” The rear passenger window was covered with opaque plastic. Personal belongings piled up inside obscured or nearly obscured the view in all three rear- and side-view mirrors.
Lindsey previously described the vehicle as a "rolling death trap" and said Farries was responsible for the poor condition.
Farries also faces two misdemeanor reckless endangerment counts and the following traffic offenses: reckless driving, two counts of failing to stop for a stop sign, failing to obey a traffic control device, driving an unsafe or defective vehicle and driving an unregistered vehicle.
She was scheduled to be arraigned June 22.
Contact the writer at 636-0366.