NEW CANAAN - The criminal trial for the former White House attorney accused of trying to kill his wife started Monday.

Police say John Michael Farren brutally beat his wife with a metal flashlight at their New Canaan home in 2010.

Farren's wife, Mary Margaret Farren, cried on the stand as she described the moments she says her husband tackled her to the ground and told her he was going to kill her.

Mary Margaret Farren says the attack happened just hours after John Michael Farren was served with divorce papers. She said that she was able to gain the strength to get her two daughters into a car and drive them to a neighbor’s home for safety.

Neighbors say they brought Farren's two daughters inside their home, where they called 911. Mary Margaret Farren was taken to the hospital.

The trial is expected to continue throughout the week.

As News 12 previously reported, John Michael Farren will not be present for the trial, only his attorney Gene Riccio will represent him.