Moments leading to towing tragedy detailed in testimony

Detra Farries at an earlier court appearance. Photo by The Gazette file

It started over a $70 tow fee.

What came next was either recklessness in its purest form — or a “freak accident” involving a woman who tried to protect what little she had in life, and inadvertently caused someone else to lose everything.

Those differing views of the Detra Farries case emerged in court Friday as her long-awaited trial began in the Feb. 23 dragging death of Allen Lew Rose.

The Iraq War veteran and married father of two was snagged by a tow cable and dragged for more than a mile behind Farries’ sport-utility vehicle when she allegedly fled a towing. Farries, 33, is charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident, manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Though nearly a year has passed, emotions in court were raw. Rose’s widow, Dawn Renee Rose, clutched a tissue and closed her eyes as a Colorado Springs police officer recounted how he found Rose by following a blood trail on the roads Farries traveled in east Colorado Springs.

“I can still smell his flesh burning — his clothes burning,” Officer Scott Carnes said. The 20-year-veteran officer buried his face in his hands before relaying other details that silenced the packed courtroom.

Dozens of bystanders saw Rose’s excruciating ordeal, and many tried to help, prosecutor Mike Ringle said during opening statements, driving home the prosecution’s view that Farries’ knew or should have known Rose was being dragged.

“They thought it was a movie,” Ringle told the jury, describing Rose’s tortured cries and the efforts of witnesses to catch the attention of Farries.

Ringle held up two work boots, each bagged in plastic, while recounting how Farries pulled a U-turn after Rose slipped out of the boots and went skidding to a stop on Platte Avenue near Babcock Road.

Cradled by good Samaritans and fading fast, Rose managed to relay details of his attempted towing at the Hill Park Apartments and even supplied the address. It is in the 300 block of North Murray Boulevard.

Rose’s heart stopped on the way to Memorial Hospital, police say.

According to her defense, Farries, 33, didn’t stop because she didn’t know someone was being dragged.

They say Rose, 35, defied what he knew as a tow-truck driver and threw his tow hooks onto Farries’ vehicle as she left — then ran after her and stepped on a flailing tow cable.

“Allen Rose didn’t follow proper tow procedure, and we’ll never know why,” public defender Jeremy Loew said.

People honked their horns and waved, but Farries was inside a modified GMC sport-utility vehicle that ran rough and loud, had broken side mirrors and was “filled to the brim” with Farries’ belongings, Loew said.

She believed Rose was following her in a Ford Festiva, not realizing the two people in the car were directing police to her.

Among Farries’ first acts upon pulling over was to call her cousin to see if Rose was at the apartment complex or had summoned police, Loew said.

After her arrest, Farries stuck by that story through hours of interrogation, even as detectives furnished her with bits of information hoping they’d catch her in a lie. Loew said Farries burst into tears when detectives finally showed her pictures of Rose’s injuries.

“The breakdown is genuine. The breakdown is real. The breakdown is heartbreaking,” he said.

“This whole case is heart-breaking,” Loew said, “but it’s not criminal.”

According to Loew, Farries was moving from Denver to Houston and was staying with a cousin for a few days. She had loaded the SUV with a microwave and plastic bags filled with “their worldly belongings.”

If convicted, a jury will decide if penalties should be doubled because of Rose’s “torturous” death — raising the prospect that Farries could be sentenced to up to 24 years on the most serious count.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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