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Defendant Melody Farris stands with defense attorney Michael Ray during her first appearance hearing on charges that she killed her husband in 2018.

Melody Farris, the Free Home woman charged with murder in the death of her husband, Gary Farris, in 2018 had a first appearance before Chief Magistrate Judge James Drane on Friday afternoon.

Farris did not speak except to answer yes and no questions asked by Drane about whether she understood her rights and the proceedings.

A preliminary hearing has been set for June 28 in Superior Court before Judge David Cannon Jr. Farris was represented at Friday’s first appearance by attorney Michael Ray. Assistant District Attorney Zachary Smith attended the hearing for the state.

“Mrs. Farris will plead not guilty and we anticipate vigorously contesting these charges,” Ray and fellow defense lawyer Scott Poole of Grishham & Poole said Friday in a statement. “We look forward to challenging the state’s theories about what happened and will be conducting our own investigation into other parties connected to the case.”

Farris, who was arrested Tuesday night in Tullahoma, Tennessee, was transported to Canton and booked into the Cherokee County jail at 4 a.m. Thursday, according to Cherokee Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jay Baker.

Farris is charged with malice murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and concealing the death of another.

On July 5, 2018, Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies responded to 2155 Purcell Lane in the Free Home community after human remains were located on the property. The remains, which were burned extensively, were later identified as Gary Farris, 58, an attorney who owned the property at 2155 Purcell Lane.

In analyzing crime scene evidence, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that Gary Farris was killed by a gunshot wound and listed his manner of death as homicide.

“A .380 caliber bullet was recovered from the charred remains of the victim. This investigation remains ongoing, but at this time no firearm has been recovered,” Baker said Wednesday morning.

According to her arrest warrant, Gary Farris was shot more than once. It also indicates authorities believe he was killed on July 3 between noon and 6 p.m.

Detectives recovered evidence indicating Melody Farris shot and killed her husband inside their home and then tried to dispose of his body and evidence by burning it on their Purcell Lane property, Baker said Wednesday.

The couple’s 10-acre property includes a pond, creek, several pastures and an extensive amount of wooded area. The property is listed for sale for $1.2 million and has been on the market for about nine months, according to the real estate website Zillow,

Gary Farris was a partner at the Atlanta-based Burr & Forman law firm, which he founded in 1995, according to the firm’s website. He practiced in Georgia and Alabama, representing banks and other lenders, including Wells Fargo Bank and Regions Bank.

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