By GRACE WONG
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — Judge Howard Coates Jr. sentenced Tim Ferriter to five years in prison and five years probation, less than the minimum under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, while expressing doubt that the defendant regretted locking his son in a cell-like room in his garage for extended periods.
“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 saying he was sorry for how he treated RF,” said Judge Howard Coates. “If he did, he must have glossed over it because I didn’t receive it as such.”
Defense Prya Murad insisted her client was remorseful and pleaded for leniency by departing from the sentencing guidelines, which exposed Ferriter to a range of 6.25 to 40 years in prison for his convictions of Aggravated Child Abuse, False Imprisonment and Child Neglect last month.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHTS: FL v. Timothy Ferriter: Boy in a Box Trial
“I will start by recognizing that all my kids have been devastated by this entire situation and I’m very sorry to them for having gone through this,” he said choking up and holding back tears. “Your mama and I have lost all you kids; you have lost your parents.”
He went on to address each one of his children including RF, who was the only one of his three eldest children to be in the courtroom. “R – I love you. Your mama loves you. We’re sorry for everything. For everything you have gone through, and everything you continue to go through.”
Ferriter told the judge that the publicity around his case made him a target. He said that he had been beaten, threatened, extorted, and asked the judge to let him serve his sentence outside of the jail system under house arrest.
RF who was seen wiping away tears during his father’s plea also appealed for mercy. He became emotional at times while reading from his statement.
“I still love you and will continue to love you for the rest of my days,” he said. “I feel sad, I feel sympathy, I feel hope but most importantly I feel forgiveness. I’m still your son and still a Ferriter.”
Ferriter attempted but failed to make eye contact with his son as he was bundled off by his handlers who rubbed his back and shoulders to comfort him while he read from his statement.
Prosecutors also read letters submitted by the defendant’s two daughters, which the judge noted ‘did not help’ Ferriter’s case when attorney Prya Murad argued for a downward departure in sentencing.
Both daughters wrote letters expressing fear of their father and defended RF as a sweet, gentle, and loving sibling.
“Consider what it is like to have lived in a house where you can hear the screams of your younger brother,” FF wrote. “Screams of frustration, hurt, anger, fear, helplessness, and despair where you can hear your father yell profanities at him, where I could hear my father beat him to the point where my brother was no longer screaming but crying out in pain and barely able to answer questions.”
A psychologist who is treating the three eldest Ferriters said the girls felt betrayed and traumatized by the defendant’s treatment of their brother.
In deciding to impose a more lenient sentence the judge said he was moved by the numerous letters of support and testimony of Ferriter’s character. He was persuaded that while the defendant “did a very, of very bad thing, he was not innately evil.”
Prosecutor Brianna Coakley objected to the downward departure and recommended 15 years in prison.
The judge ruled that for the first two years of his five-year probation, Ferriter would be under house arrest and could have no contact with his three eldest children unless they wanted the contact.
He also ordered Ferriter to complete 40 hours of anger management counseling; 40 hours of a parenting class, undergo a mental health evaluation, and have only supervised visits with his youngest son.
The defense intends to file a motion seeking his release on bond pending his appeal.