Man who tried to kill wife 3 times awaits parole hearing decision 4 years into 30-year sentence

Fred Wortman (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
Fred Wortman (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Sep. 19, 2019 at 4:06 PM CDT
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COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - A Collierville man serving a 30-year sentence for attempting to kill his wife three separate times asked a parole board for early release Thursday.

One of the Tennessee Board of Parole members said Fred Wortman is still a very clear threat to not only his ex-wife but also to his children.

On Thursday, the board member voted to keep Wortman in prison for another seven years being eligible for parole.

Wortman is supposed to serve at least nine years in prison for attempting to murder Staci Jones. Investigators say he poisoned her toothpaste and twice tried to hire a hit-man.

Wortman accepted a plea deal in 2015, which resulted in a 30-year sentence. Part of the deal was to serve 30 percent of the sentence, or nine years. Good behavior in prison bought him before the parole board early.

Thursday was the first time in four years Jones was face to face with her ex-husband, the man who tried three times to kill her. She made a tearful plea to keep Wortman in prison.

“I ask you please do not to grant Fred Wortman parole,” she said.

Back in July, she started a petition to deny Wortman’s parole. It’s gotten more than 37,000 signatures.

“I first apologize to my family, to friends and all others who are here today” Wortman said during the hearing.

A prison chaplain, an attorney and his family spoke on Wortman’s behalf. They described him as a changed man who owns his choice and guilt of the crimes.

“His actions and this situation does not reflect the person, the true person that he is,” said Wortman’s mother Marilyn Wortman.

Despite the testimony of two prosecutors and an investigator, the most powerful plea came from the woman who calls herself a fearful survivor.

“I believe I am still the aim and that Fred Wortman wants to eliminate me,” said Jones.

Wortman says he’s taken time to self-reflect during his four years in Morgan County Correctional Complex. Time, he says, that’s allowed him to accept full responsibility for the crimes.

“My weaknesses back then have and continue to chill me to my core," said Wortman.

Jones called Thursday’s Tennessee Board of Parole member Gary Faulcon the first victory in the fight to keep the man who tried to kill her away from her family.

“One vote so far. We are praying for three more but we feel God answered huge prayers today,” said Jones.

Four votes are needed to keep Wortman in prison. It’s unclear when the other six board members will cast their votes.

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