By GRACE WONG
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — Prosecutors will call the defendant’s daughter to the witness stand Tuesday to support their case that Tim Ferriter abused his adopted son.
Ferriter and his wife Tracy were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment, and child neglect after police discovered a room in their garage that was allegedly used to lock up their 14-year-old son every day for extended periods of time. The custom-built room in the garage was locked from the outside and contained no furnishings except for a mattress and a bucket.
During jury selection, prosecutors sought reassurance from jurors that a single witness, a child could be enough to support a conviction. One prospective juror who expressed doubt that one witness would be sufficient proof was dismissed.
Ferriter’s daughter, a juvenile, will not be in the same courtroom as her father when she testifies. She will be questioned by attorneys in a courtroom one floor below and her testimony will be viewed by the judge and jury on a monitor via closed-circuit television. Her brother is expected to testify in the same way the next day.
Prosecutors questioned jurors about whether they felt it was appropriate for the State to intervene in parenting decisions, while the defense quizzed jurors on their feelings about spanking and how they would determine parental intent.
Several jurors became emotional during voir dire, including one juror who became distraught when she revealed that she had been physically abused.
“…coming from a household where I was spanked and I was, you know, kind of slapped around a little bit,” she said. “I took it a little bit more emotionally than my, my sibling and I would not choose to do that to a child.”
She agreed that she was not a good candidate to sit on the jury.
Two Asian American prospective jurors were also dismissed prompting a protest from defense attorneys. The defense objected after the State used a peremptory to strike a second Asian American male from the panel. Prosecutors were asked to offer a race-neutral reason for striking the juror. They expressed concern about the juror’s youth and maturity, and his remarks that there were cultural differences related to discipline. The judge granted the strike.
Six jurors and three alternates were selected to hear the case against Ferriter. The panel is composed of 6 females and 3 males. Among the jurors, one is a black female, and two are Hispanic.