'I'm sorry:' New Berlin man accused in death of his wife of 40 years pleads not guilty

James Farris

NEW BERLIN -- A New Berlin man accused in connection with the death of his wife of 40 years pleaded not guilty Friday, June 7.

James Farris, 59, faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, domestic abuse and two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping, domestic abuse.

During Farris' preliminary hearing Friday, a motion to dismiss the case was denied by the court, and two New Berlin Police Department detectives testified. Probable cause was found for further proceedings.

According to a criminal complaint, Farris called 911 around 9:45 p.m. on April 28 to "report that he had an altercation with his wife, Linda Farris, and during the altercation, she became non-responsive." Officers were dispatched to the scene.

When officers arrived, James Farris was standing over his wife stating, "You need to help her!" The complaint indicated Farris had "several cuts along the top of both of his forearms which appeared bloody." Despite the efforts of the New Berlin Fire Department, Linda Farris was pronounced deceased about 30 minutes later.

James Farris

Investigators questioned Farris about what happened. He indicated "he and Linda had gotten into an argument about the care of (their daughter -- who has special needs). During that argument, James Farris stated that Linda grabbed his arms and gouged him with her fingernails. Farris stated that he and Linda were pushing or 'wrestling.'" At one point, Farris said "he landed on top of Linda and then she stopped fighting and was unconscious." Farris told the officer he tried to wake Linda. After several unsuccessful attempts, he called 911.

When Farris learned his wife had passed, officials indicated he made suicidal statements saying, "he did not want to live anymore and asking officers to shoot him." Officers told Farris they would have to arrest him for bail violations. The complaint indicated Farris asked to see his wife on the way out of the residence. The complaint said Farris "stared at Linda and stated, 'I'm sorry.'"


Records showed previous trouble in the Farris home. James Farris was charged with domestic abuse in February. Linda told police James was an alcoholic who was in rehab years ago, but struggled with sobriety. She said he grabbed his handgun and told her, "I wish you were dead." In April, police were called multiple times for verbal arguments. It was also in April, James Farris received his first OWI.

Online court records showed a June 13 hearing in the February domestic abuse case.