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Former White House attorney convicted of attempted murder of wife

Photo by File Photo

FILE – John Michael Farren, 57, of New Canaan, is arraigned in state Superior Court in Norwalk after he was charged with attempted murder and strangulation following a report of a domestic dispute.

Stamford, Conn. — In a case that took more than four years to come to trial, jurors took little more than a day to convict former White House attorney J. Michael Farren of trying to kill his wife in their New Canaan mansion.

Farren was in the courtroom for the verdict Friday for the first time during the trial. He made a request last week to be tried in absentia saying he was unable to cope mentally with the evidence against him, and he hoped his absence would quell media interest in the case.

In 2010, Farren was arrested and charged in the brutal beating of his then-wife, Mary Margaret Farren, while their two young children slept in rooms on the same floor.

During three days of testimony this week, jurors heard from police, medics and from his now ex-wife Mary Margaret Farren herself detailing the severity of the beating she sustained the night of Jan. 6, 2010 — two days after she served him with divorce papers to end their 15-year marriage.

Mary Farren testified on how she ended up with a broken jaw and cheek bone and cuts so deep on her head that her skull was visible to doctors in the emergency room.

"I felt my life was slipping away," the jurors heard again, as she described collapsing on a neighbor's white marble floor and seeing her blood ooze over it. They heard again how she got up after being choked and beaten with a heavy flashlight, got her children out of their rooms and into a car, and drove to a house down the road.

They also heard her admit under cross examination that Farren had not attempted to hurt his children that night and had access to two guns in the house.

Farren was charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and risk of injury to a child. He could face a maximum of 50 years in prison when he is sentenced.

The case had been delayed by several legal disputes over representation. Farren tried to defend himself after first hiring two attorneys, who were later reinstated. He then asked for a public defender after he lost a civil case in which a jury awarded his ex-wife $28 million in December. It eventually was determined Farren was ineligible.

During the trial, Farren's defense attorneys admitted that Farren, 61, beat his wife badly, but took issue with the severity of the charges brought against him and whether the state had made its case against the former Xerox general counsel, who also served two Bush presidents in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Lucas, Stamford Advocate

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