A Lodi woman accused in the stabbing death of a fellow transient was arraigned in court Tuesday on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Judith "Judy" Lynn Fromm, 43, did not enter a plea in the case involving Saturday night's death of 38-year-old Dwayne Kelly Henderson.
Prosecutors did not charge a second person who had initially been arrested, Craig Wonderlich, and he has since been released from jail.
Fromm spoke softly when San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge David P. Warner asked if she wanted an attorney. Deputy Public Defender Athena Chase began talking quietly with Fromm, who soon dropped her head into her shackled hands and began crying.
Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison, and using a knife in the crime could add another year to the punishment.
Fromm was arrested around 10:45 p.m. Saturday after a citizen told a police sergeant that people were fighting on Sacramento Street north of Lockeford Street.
Sgt. Steve Nelson arrived and saw Henderson fall to the ground as two other people began leaving. Nelson told them to stop, and he tried to help Henderson, who later died at Lodi Memorial Hospital of a stab wound to the chest.
Police said they recovered a kitchen knife at the scene.
Fromm and Wonderlich, who have dated for 19 years, were both arrested. After further investigation Monday night, Wonderlich was released from the city jail, said Lodi Police Detective Mike Manetti.
Both had been held on suspicion of murder, which carries a possible penalty of 25 years to life in prison. That charge was not filed against Fromm "based upon investigation of the evidence," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Freitas, who declined to discuss details of the case.
Murder is defined under California law as having intent, while manslaughter does not involve malice. Voluntary manslaughter happens "upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion," under California's penal code.
Fromm and the victim knew one another, and in July were arrested for trespassing. Both had been given Friday court appearances, but neither one appeared.
Fromm is also charged with a misdemeanor in that case, and she will return to court Aug. 25 on both cases.
Henderson's family members, including his mother and brother, attended Tuesday's brief court appearance, then met with prosecutors and police to discuss the case.
His mother wiped away tears and said the family is still trying to come up with funds for a burial.