Jupiter father asks judge to ‘lean into mercy,’ sentenced to 5 years
Judge opts for downward departure in sentence of Tim Ferriter
A Jupiter father who locked his adopted son in a box-like structure in the family’s garage has been sentenced to five years in prison, which is more than what the defense requested but less than the maximum possible sentence of 40 years.
Tim Ferriter was back in court Thursday for his sentencing hearing at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, where he openly spoke to his family, apologizing for the devastation his children have gone through, and stated that God has a plan for him.
He concluded his 10-minute speech by asking Judge Howard Coates for leniency in determining his sentence.
"I also plead of you, Judge Coates, to use your discretion to lean into mercy for my family and myself to make your decision," Ferriter said. "I ask that you allow me to serve my sentence outside the jail or prison, under house arrest or a monitor under probation so as to be able to support the ones I love and the ones that depend on me."
Ultimately, Coates seemed to compromise, determining a punishment that was greater than what the defense had sought but less than what prosecutors were seeking.
Ferriter, 48, was convicted last month on charges of child abuse, child neglect and false imprisonment.
Prosecutors convinced jurors during his trial that Ferriter treated his 14-year-old adopted son like a prisoner in their home, forcing the boy to sleep in an 8x8 windowless room in the garage of their Egret Landing home with nothing but a mattress, a desk and a bucket in which to defecate. The only time he was allowed out was to go to school.
Defense attorneys claimed Ferriter, who did not testify during the trial, was a frustrated father who made a poor parenting choice in trying to control his son’s repeated bad behavior.
Ferriter could be seen crying as he listened to his teenage son's statement.
"I still love you and I will always love you until the end of my days," his son said.
The teen went on to say that he wished Ferriter well.
"My father was a good person who just made a really serious mistake," he said.
He then asked Coates to sentence Ferriter to six months in jail, followed by another five years of probation.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully sought to have Ferriter released from jail while he awaited sentencing, but Coates denied the request.
Ferriter's attorney, Prya Murad, filed a motion requesting a downward departure, which allows a judge to impose a sentence below the lowest permissible punishment.
Assistant State Attorney Brianna Coakley argued that the points made in Murad's motion had no legal basis.
Murad tried to argue her position, saying Ferriter had shown remorse, but Coates questioned whether that was so.
"I heard him apologize and say he was sorry to his children for putting them in this position, but I don't think I heard one single time him say he was sorry for how he treated R.F.," Coates said. "I mean, if he did, he must have glossed over it because I didn't receive it as such."
In the end, Coates ruled in favor of a downward departure, noting that the Ferriter family "has already suffered the trauma and the ramifications and consequences of the defendant's conduct."
Coates said he believed Ferriter "expressed his remorse at that."
"I just wish he'd been a little more forceful in getting the point to me that he actually acknowledges that what he did was wrong, and I didn't get that. I still didn't get that," Coates said. "Because I have some sneaking feeling that if all things being equal the defendant might say that he would do the same thing over again because he thought it was the right thing to do out of love at the time he did it, and that creates problems for me. I hope that I'm wrong on that. But at least that doubt – that doubt – has been allowed to remain in my head."
Coates revealed that the state sought a sentence of 15 years, while the defense wanted Ferriter to serve a year, plus probation.
"The downward departure is not even remotely close to what the victim has requested, nor the defense counsel requested, and at the end of the day, the sentence that I'm going to impose is going to be longer than what the guidelines provide," Coates said.
Coates chose a downward departure from 75 months to 60 months, followed by five years of probation. He also required Ferriter to take 40-hour anger management and parenting classes and undergo a mental health evaluation as a condition of Ferriter's probation.
Ferriter also won't be allowed to have any contact with his older children until he's met the conditions for probation.
Coates ruled that Ferriter can have supervised contact with his youngest child, citing "the circumstances that presently exist."
"The youngest child has been adopted by the wife's mother," Coates said. "And it's just not realistic in the court's view that where the adoption was permitted of the wife's mother that any rational people looking at this situation would conclude that the parents are not going to have any contact with that child, or they should not have allowed the adoption to be by the wife's mother to begin with."
Ferriter will receive 37 days credit for time served.
Coakley objected to the judge's downward departure ruling, and Murad notified Coates that she intended to file a motion for an appellate bond.
Before the trial began, Ferriter rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for two years.
Ferriter's wife, Tracy Ferriter, is facing the same charges and still awaiting trial. She was present throughout her husband's trial and attended the sentencing hearing.
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